James Peisker began his hospitality career at the ripe age of 14 as a host for the diner across the street from his house in St. Louis, MO. By the time he was 16 he had worked his way from host, to dishwasher, and eventually moved his way up to being a waiter. It was working with the chefs at The Gatesworth Home that James truly found his passion for the culinary arts, and inspired him to go to culinary school. After graduating high school he attended Forest Park Community College and competed with the American Culinary Federation State Junior Team. Finally, after a year at FP he moved to Hyde Park, New York to attend The Culinary Institute of America.
Upon graduation from CIA James elected to continue his education, spending two weeks at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, to learn about the local cuisine and culture in the Sichuan region of China. When he returned to St. Louis, he took a position as a roundsman at Old Warson Country Club and then moved to Niche in downtown St. Louis. He eventually became the sous chef at Niche and found himself doing most of the whole-animal butchering for the restaurant. It was then that he discovered his love for the craft of butchering, and later helped open Brassiere by Niche where his passion continued to grow. He eventually moved to Nashville, and in 2010 opened up Local Eateries, LLC with his business partner Chris Carter. As James and Chris were sitting on the front porch of Chris’s Porter Road home one afternoon, they were drinking whiskey, talking about the future, and musing over Nashville’s need for an excellent, local butcher shop. Thus, and idea was born. And so was Porter Road Butcher.
Before opening Porter Road Butcher James did a stage at The Butcher and Larder in Chicago to further his education in whole animal butchering. He is now ready to perfect his skills and serve the great people of Nashville local farm raised meats and products.
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Chris Carter is a local Nashvillian, raised in Hendersonville, TN. Chris made his entry into the restaurant world working as a bus boy during his high school years. After graduating from Hendersonville High he attended the University of Memphis and graduated with a major in hospitality management. He worked a couple of jobs in college, doing promotions for a radio station, and took positions in the restaurant industry as well, working as a server and banquet server at Coletta’s, and then as a bartender for two years, before deciding to attend culinary school.
Chris attended culinary school at Le Cordon Blue in Scottsdale, AZ, and chose to further his undergraduate education, majoring in culinary management. During his time in culinary school, Chris worked his first kitchen job as a sous chef at Dragon Fly Café in Scottsdale, but after a year and a half he decided to switch gears. He began working for two different Scottsdale spots, Atlas Bistro and Twisted Rose Winery and Eatery, which further opened his eyes to the culinary arts. After graduation he took a job at Flemings Steakhouse where he found himself mastering the art of grilling meats. In 2009 Chris moved back to Nashville and took a job at the Capital Grille at The Hermitage Hotel, where he and James met. Chris controlled quality and took charge of the meat station there, serving wonderfully prepared grilled meats. Chris has always had a great appreciation for high quality ingredients and a passion for perfection in the kitchen. Chris now is ready to serve the Nashville people with great products and wonderful service.
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Title: General Manager (East)
Hailing from Lafayette, Indiana, Tim George has a first-name, last-name. He got his first meaty job in Bloomington, IN as a grocery store meat clerk and his hunger for meat hasn’t wavered since. Although he wasn’t practicing whole animal butchery initially, he found that he liked cutting meat and continued to do so when he moved to Nashville in 2011 in pursuit of a music career—call him “The Singing Butcher.” It was then that he began working as a meat-cutter at Nashville’s Turnip Truck. He soon decided to take butchering to a higher level and moved to Porter Road. You might have guessed that this Stetson-clad stud is a part of Music City’s music scene, but little did you know your bespectacled butcher also stores a lot of knowledge up in that noggin: Tim enjoys filling his brain with the literary genius of Hemingway and Paulson, as well as non-fiction reads. No wonder he’s been wearing those intellectualizing Ray Bans for 6 years now…
Nickname: Dewbert or Dopey
Title: Sausage Maker (East)
Stuart is a native Nashvillian who was born and raised in our beautiful, Batman-building-clad city. A very lucky fellow, his position at Porter Road more or less fell into his lap when he took a friend’s position as our dishwasher back in early 2013. Although dishwashing was exhilarating and fulfilling work for Stuart, he has since moved on to greener pastures and now lays claim to the title of Sausage Maker at our east Nashville location. Eyes gleaning through his trendy blue spectacles he states, “I pretty much make anything we sell that comes in a tube.” While not grinding, stuffing, and twisting meat into casings, Stuart enjoys drawing detailed portraits, playing video games (nerd alert) and drinking either Bud Heavy or cheap bourbon. Deeeelicious.
Title: General Manager (West)
Alex and James go way back; they worked together at a fancy pants St. Louis country club back in 2006, and their bond of friendship held strong for years following. It was there at Old Warson Country Club that Alex discovered his love for cooking and used said experience as a launching pad for advancing and perfecting his kitchen skills. He made his way to Nashville in the summer of 2013 by way of Boulder, Colorado after landing the General Manager position at Porter Road’s brand-spankin’ new Charlotte Ave location. In the shop, Alex serves as a Renaissance Man: he helps with catering, prepares stock, grinds and stuffs sausages, educates and serves customers, and of course cuts plenty of meat. When he’s not wearing a gazillion hats at the shop, (although in reality, he only ever wears his St. Louis Cardinals hat) he enjoys cooking for his girlfriend Megan, playing with his cat Ruby, or drinking sour beer that’s aged in wine barrels—he says they’re better than they sound. Jury’s still out on that one.
Nickname: Nora Jones’ Diary
Title: Pastry Chef
Nora is our pastry chef, aka the Porter Road Baker. She was PRB west’s first in-store, full-time female on staff, and she lays claim to the west side shop from 6 AM to about 4 PM, five days a week. She’ll be the neon orange flat bill beaming out of our drive-thru window at 7 in the morn’ ready to cure whatever it is that ails you with a hot bacon-stuffed biscuit or homemade pop-tart. Although she comes from the Northeastern parts of the States, ranging from DC all the way up to Maine, this girl knows how to make a southern biscuit. And then some. Nora was never professionally schooled in the art of pastry-making, but she learned her trade through working and assisting in a variety of restaurants and groceries, and upon moving to Nashville in late 2012 took a job as a pastry chef at the Turnip Truck. Feeling ready for a change of pace after spending almost a year there, she left the TT in September and came to join the men of PRB. We’re just happy we have a little estrogen in the joint.
Title: Butcher (West)
With a family that comes from the great city of Chicago, Justin is the first, first-generation native Nashvillian in his family. Although he still elects to wear a Chicago Bears hat each and every day, he has a Tennessee flag tattoo on his right forearm, so we’ll let the hat slide. Justin initially embarked on his career as a butcher at the age of 18, working in the meat department of the old favorite Nashville grocery, H.G. Hills. After graduating from Nashville Tech with a degree in computer systems programming, Justin worked for a short period of time as a medical transcription specialist (yawn) before the itch to cut meat crept back into his being. Fortuitously, he saw a “butcher wanted” post on Facebook from PRB and he began cutting meat with us in July of 2013. If not for his Tennessee tat, you’ll be able to recognize Justin for his love of all things TN: Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Blackstone’s Oatmeal Stout, and fishing.
Title: Butcher and Smokemaster (East)
Coming from a slightly more northern South, Russo is Kentucky boy at heart, calling Louisville his home; that’s pronounced, /’lou-vuhl/. He went to culinary school at CIA up in Hyde Park, New York, and then spent time cooking at a restaurant up in the Adirondaks. In 2010 he decided it was time to return south, electing to make Nashville his new home, and arriving just in time for The Flood. Talk about excellent timing. Since moving to Nashville Russo has spent time as both a line cook and a Chef d’ Cuisine at Merchant’s, honing his skills and making a name for himself in the Nashville food arena. In 2012 he left Merchant’s in order to take a little time off, and in 2013 found his way to Porter Road where he learned the trade of whole-animal butchering. While not butchering and smoking meats (his real passion is barbecuing) Russo loves the peace of fishing on the lake while drinking a few cold Lagunitas.
Nickname: Madame Louise
Title: Social Media n’ Marketing Gal
A Nashvillian born and bred, Maddie first entered the restaurant biz as an intern for local Nashville bakery Dulce Desserts when she was just 17, and has continued to work in the industry ever since. Following a half-assed, four-month stint as a vegetarian and feeling culinarily liberated, her unhealthy obsession with food really began in 2011 when she went to eat drink study abroad in Barcelona. Since then, her love for food has done nothing but grow, and she occasionally writes on what is now her 3rd blog, maddielite.com. And look at that! Now she is blogging, Instagramming, Tweeting, newslettering, marketing, and just generally communicating for PRB, getting into the meat of the business. While not on her phone or laptop editing photos of pork butt and trying to make these butchers look good, Maddie teaches and practices hot yoga, spends far too much money trolling the Nashville restaurant scene, and is still trying to finish Breaking Bad. Whatever.
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Title: Butcher (West)
At the age of 18, Tucker was working in the produce department of his small-town Iowa grocery when he realized that what he enjoyed most was cutting things and helping customers. Cue the move to the meat department, where the cutting is constant and customer interaction is paramount. Not only did the cool guys work in meat, but with his excellent knife work and friendly demeanor he fit in like a glove. In May of 2013 his wife was transferred to Nashville for work so Tucker made the move too, finding a similar job at a large grocery chain. In the corporate setting he felt unhappy and uninspired, but when he heard about PRB his ears perked up. All it took was a sample of our Porteroni for his love to bloom. And the half a hog he saw hanging in the cooler? Game over. “I had never seen hanging meat before…it always came from a cardboard box.” So he quit his job and returned to PRB one week later. On his days off Tucker leads his 25-person team in World of Warcraft, but he also enjoys camping, fishing, and drinking Blue Moon: “Blue moon! With an orange!? That stuff’s delicious.”
Title: Lunch Chef
A Nashville native with a long-held an interest in the culinary world, Sean’s career at PRB unofficially started during his consistent lunchtime patronage over the past year-ish. Living just a few streets from our West location, Sean developed a healthy habit of stopping in for some midday grub. He staged a couple of times, quietly learning the trade of butchering meat and mostly keeping to himself, but when he heard that our resident lunch chef was leaving he finally piped up. Although he always liked to cook he remarked, “I feel like I was never really that good at cooking until I came here.” My, how the times have changed! In addition to preparing your Bahn Mi’s and Fried Bologna n Pimento Cheese sandwiches, Sean serves breakfast in the mornings, and then cooks dinner for he and his girlfriend after work. Shoo! On the off chance that he’s not cooking you can find him shredding it on the electric guitar and singing melodious harmonies for his band Promise Land Sound. Either that, or watching Parks & Rec. It’s a toss up.
Title: Dishwasher / Trimmer (West)
Gernaro. Pronounced /hare-NAHR-oh/. Not, however /hah-bah-NARE-oh/, like some folks seem to think. Though originally from Choloma Cortes, the third largest city in Honduras, Gernaro has been in the U.S. for over seven years now. He initially found work as an electrician and a house painter, but in 2008 landed his first restaurant job as the dishwasher at West End Ave’s beloved Rumba. For four years he worked both there and at Jackson’s and soon moved from solely dishwashing to cleaning, trimming, and dicing meat for dinner service. He came to PRB looking to work as a dishwasher, but when he began flexing his cutting and trimming muscles, he was put to work in the cutting room as well. While he’s not working either here or at Cabana, where he washes dishes four nights a week, Gernaro enjoys fishing, shopping with his wife and two children, and eating at his favorite restaurants, namely Burger King or Taco Bell. And of course amigo loves him some Patrón to wind down after a long day’s work. Chin chin!
Title: Sausage Maker (East)
John is one who is difficult to sum up into mere words. Born in Memphis but raised in Nashville, he’s a through-and-through Tennessee boy whose been working with Porter Road since the day we opened our west Nashville doors in 2013. Following a slew of jobs that included frying donuts at the crack of dawn, assisting in head hunting for a modeling agency, and working towards becoming a state corrections officer, he found himself looking for work elsewhere yet again. A family connection hooked him up with the guys at PRB and he landed a job as our resident west side dishwasher in August. Since then John has moved over to our east shop where he picks herbs, measures spices, grinds meat, and then turns it into sausages. Recently engaged, he spends his free time with his fiancé or otherwise blows off steam with the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Dark Souls for Xbox. A quarter Italian, he proudly claims 5 Points Pizza to be his favorite food, but his southern roots shine when it comes to his drinks: Budweiser and Bird Dog Blackberry Whiskey.
Title: Sausage Maker (West)
In the Spring of 2014 Chad “Queso” Curtis tricycled his way to Porter Road Butcher with a goal of working in the food industry—and one day owning restaurants of his own. For 7 years prior he’d worked in management for a large healthcare corporation but finally threw in the towel in 2013, leaving his monotonous job to search for work in the industry he loves. As someone who has always enjoyed cooking and entertaining guests—his signature dish is a White Chicken Lasagna—it makes sense that Queso would work in restaurants and hospitality. “I thought about attending the Art Institute for culinary school,” he said, “but then realized I could probably learn as much, if not more, by apprenticing with chefs.” Queso is the resident sausage maker at PRB West, but while he’s not grinding, stuffing, and twisting, he rocks it on the counter, assisting customers and answering questions. In his free time this eligible bachelor (wink!) enjoys dreaming up new paté recipes, drinking way too much Fitz’s Root Beer, or tooling around town on his blue tricycle while wearing his spiky pink helmet. Oh, you keep an eye out: that’s how he arrives at work each and every day.
Nickname: Wesley Snipes
Title: Butcher (West)
When the calendar struck July in 2014 Wesley Adams packed his bags and left his long-time Louisiana life for a brand new one here in Nashville. A Shreveport native, Wes worked for four years as a butcher and manager of Maxwell’s Market in his hometown, but found himself constantly hunting for a job someplace new. Two and a half years ago in 2012 he sent a job inquiry e-mail to Chris and James, which very unsurprisingly, was left unanswered (that’s a jab at Chris and James’ lackluster emailing skills; not at Wesley’s lackluster e-mail). But two years later, following an evening spent with Basil Hayden, Wesley found the confidence to reach out once again with a message entitled, “Meat Me.” That did the trick. When he came to visit in May (job research he dubbed “meatsearch”—kid really loves a meaty play-on-words) he was impressed and excited by the prospect of whole-animal butchering in our great Music City so he quit his job and made the move a month later. While not slicing and dicing, Wesley enjoys eating every hamburger he can get his hands on (he’s seeking the one in Nashville that reigns supreme), hunting deer, and mountain biking. Burgers, hunting, mountain biking and meat. Talk about a dude.