If you often purchase your meat at the hand of a beautiful Porter Road butcher instead of simply picking up a cling-wrapped Styrofoam tray from Kroger, you might feel as if you’ve more or less gotten to know the people who work for us. If you’ve checked out our website of late, you might have noticed the updated and expanded biographies of the outstanding folks who make up our one-of-a-kind PRB crew, and you might feel as if you could strike up a conversation with one—or all—of them while paying for that pound of andouille.
On the other hand however, there might be one face, one guy, one seemingly quiet John Deer-clad young lad whom you’ve seen prowling both the east and west shop, but whom you didn’t know much about. That’d be Cole.
Originally from Lebanon, Connecticut, Cole Abell grew up on his family’s dairy farm and during his teenage years found work in the meat department of a grocery store. After graduating from high school last June, 18-year old Cole was uncertain about what would come next. He enjoyed his job at the grocery working with meat but both he and his mother knew that there was something else that he could and should be doing. So mom Kim set to the Internet, and after a little bit of research stumbled upon Porter Road Butcher all the way down in Nashville, Tennessee. “Wanna move to Tennessee?” she asked him.
Before he knew it, Cole had packed up his forest green Jeep Cherokee and was steering himself south, Nashville bound and eager to begin his six-month stage, or internship, at Porter Road Butcher.
Cole comes from a long lineage of farmers and cow lovers, so his interest in butchering is a no-brainer. His mother, father, and stepdad all spent their adolescence growing up on farms and his grandfather had one of the biggest dairy farms in Lebanon back in the day, laying claim to over 300 cows. With such a rich farming background Cole is familiar with caring for pigs and cows, but throughout his time in Nashville he’s been spending the past few months really getting into the meat of the animals (har har har).
His favorite thing to do in the shop is cut up chucks (that’s the front shoulder of a cow) but as owner Chris said, “he’s learned everything. I mean, everything.” Cole was educated on the arts of making sausages, smoking meats, grinding beef, plus other vital butchering skills, and he now knows how to break down whole pigs, cows, and chickens. But most important of all, Cole learned who Bob Dylan is, thanks to his pals at Porter Road. Isn’t it amazing what you can learn at a butcher shop?
Although he hails from the northeastern parts of the country, Cole is really a country boy at heart. While not helping his mom with their M&K Dairy Farm, he finds himself street racing with his friends, going muddin’ in those giant-tired trucks, and taking selfies with his closest friends; he almost exclusively wears John Deere apparel, covering his torso with brown and green sweatshirts, and keeps his noggin warm with a JD cap; and once upon a time, Cole had a pet pig named Charlotte who went everywhere with him, even accompanying him to McDonalds for a casual lunch outing.
Here in Nashville, he’s stayed true to his country ways: he enjoys filling his ears with some of Music City’s best tunes over at the Exit Inn, he spends his free time hunting and fishing with Matt Russo, and he cooks Hamburger Helper for himself for dinner—using PRB ground beef, of course…talk about an oxymoron—when Russo can’t help a brother out with some real life food.
Staring down his final month as our butcher shop intern, Cole says leaving Nashville will be bittersweet: “It’ll suck to say goodbye to all of my new friends here and it will be weird to return to Lebanon since Nashville is a much bigger city than where I’m from. But I am looking forward to hanging out with my old friends back home and seeing my brother and sister again.” Ain’t that sweet!
We’re going to miss Cole’ dry sense of humor, hard work ethic, and general friendly way of being, but we’re also happy that he’ll [hopefully] start eating real food again when he goes back home…instead of the Hamburger Helper and canned chili with which he chooses to nourish his body.
If you haven’t gotten to know Cole yet—don’t delay! His days in Nashville are numbered and you don’t wanna miss out on the opportunity to chat with this country Connecticut boy before he heads back to the homeland.