Dustin Dahlin has a meaty resume that includes an apprenticeship at the renowned high-end San Francisco butcher shop Fatted Calf and two years at one of the best butcher shops in America (Left Bank Butchery, in Saxapahaw). Later on, he landed in Phoenix, where you could find him behind the counter at Arcadia Meat Market.
Now, Dahlin's in the process of heading west — though not too far west. In January, he says, he'll open his own butchery, Underbelly Meat Co., in Willo, in the My Florist Plaza on McDowell Road near Seventh Avenue.
“Butchery for me combines what I value about food,” says Dahlin. "There's a life, and then there are lives raising that life. We want to be a place that cares deeply about how an animal gave its life to feed us."
Underbelly will sell meat, poultry, lamb, heirloom pigs, eggs, and possibly raw milk, with local sourcing an emphasis. Some of the farms and ranches Underbelly plans to work with include Black Ranch (off-the-grid farming/regenerative farming), Blue Goose Farms, Arizona Grass Raised Beef Co., Rancho Llano Seco, Green Pastures, L Bell Ranch, and Chiricahua Pasture Raised Meats.
“Despite what people assume, which is that nothing grows in the desert, we have a lot of good people raising really great animals in Arizona."
Underbelly will also will have cured meats, "lip-smacking broths," and sandwiches on offer. Depending on demand, Dahlin’s interested in culturally focused products, such as Flæskesteg (Danish roast pork with crackling), boerowors (South African sausage), and offals.
“I find myself cooking more simply when I have good products because they already taste better,” says Dahlin. “Food tastes like it should when it’s raised right.”
Karen Martin, a longtime friend of Dahlin's with 25 years of experience in the food industry, will manage the shop and provide the business yin to the yang of Dahlin’s creativity and perfectionism. “Other people’s passion has always inspired me, and I encourage them to go after their dream,” Martin says of Dahlin. “He’s just insanely talented.”
Dahlin says he's hoping Underbelly can be an educational experience for others. That includes plans for an apprenticeship program, but also a general environment where customers are encouraged to be curious. Come in with some questions and preferences, he says. Ask about the animals and he’ll guide you.
“There should be trust," says Dahlin. In fact, that's (partially) where the name came from. His butcher shop, he says, is a place where "the underbelly of things is on the table.”
Underbelly Meat Co.
1605 North 7th Avenue