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Meet the New Bull: Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe

Kate Kavanaugh and Josh Curtiss are the engaged duo behind Western Daughters.

Western Daughters' relationship with producers is collaborative and constructive.

Western Daughters also sells mayonnaise, peanut butter, pickles and other prepared items.

The meat is butchered onsite.

 Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe is a "heritage" butcher shop that opened in late 2013.

Western Daughters is a Denver butcher shop that favors the craft approach.

Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe goes against the grain of the meat industry, with a craft-like approach to beef, pork and game. Proprietors Josh Curtiss and Kate Kavanaugh say healthy meat-eating often means eating less of it.
Raging amidst LoHi's nationally recognized restaurant scene, there's a new bull in town, and it's roaring to your dinner plate. 
 
Or, might we say, casually mooing or oinking in the vast outdoor spaces of Colorado's Eastern Plains. 
 
Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe, a "heritage" butcher shop that opened in late 2013. It's changing the way customers are eating the beef, pork, lamb and Rocky Mountain game available at the 750-square-foot butcher shop. 
 
The engaged duo behind Western Daughters, Kate Kavanaugh and Josh Curtiss, got their start in butcher shops on the East Coast, then brought that education and mentality to Colorado, infusing it with local materials and meat. This means buying only animals within 250 miles of Denver in the shop, and butchering them onsite. 
 
The space is defined by Curtiss' hand-laid counters and tile work and other thoughtful materials in its slick design. 
 
Healthier (and less) meatWestern Daughters' relationship with producers is collaborative and constructive.
 
Decor aside, the focus at Western Daughters is squarely on the meat. "Everything is different here, from our service industry to the way we raise livestock," explains Kavanaugh. "We chose to work exclusively with plains farmers and ranchers. That really cemented in our minds what was important. We choose breeds that do well on the plains and land-management practices that fit the ecosystem. It's not just about being a farm-to-table shop, it's about the journey from the farm to the table, and the discussion. It all has to figure in and be a part of how we talk and feel about our food."
 
Healthier animals means healthier meat. Grass-fed beef usually packs more Omega-3s, CLAs, and good fats than its grocery-store counterpart. Studies have shown that cattle raised solely in the outdoors, grazing on natural vegetation with no corn supplement, benefit the consumer with more cancer-fighting agents, healthy fats and good cholesterol.
 
Western Daughters' relationship with producers is collaborative and constructive, a true win-win. "We chose to work with Western Daughters because of their approach," says Matt Kautz of Cottonwood Creek Farms, a supplier of the shop's pork and eggs near Merino, Colorado. "It was obvious from the get-go that they weren't only concerned about the end product, but also with the entire process from farm to table."
 
And when it comes the table, Kavanaugh recommends less meat. "We like to take the approach that quality meat doesn't have to be an everyday staple," she says. "It makes a good side dish and can be consumed a few times a week as opposed to three times a day."
 
An array of meats, familiar and newKate Kavanaugh and Josh Curtiss are the engaged duo behind Western Daughters.
 
There are striking cuts of meat such as ribeye, tenderloin, strip steak and the rare pork sirloin steak, and the prices are most definitely premium. Some overlooked cuts are more affordable. Breakfast steaks, ranch steaks, prairie steaks, Boston butt and picnic cuts of pork can all be found at under $10 a pound.
 
It's a full-service shop. Kavanaugh and Curtiss are there to answer questions about where that particular piece of meat comes from (yes, you can reference Portlandia and its "Is this chicken local?" sketch in Western Daughters, and they'll get it), the best preparation for that piece of meat, or you can even browse through Kavanaugh's cookbooks on the shelves, and her Instagram feed -- she's a real recipe and photography buff as well.
 
Western Daughters also sells mayonnaise, hot sauces and marinades, as well as chiles, stews, and other prepared items -- not to mention bison-hide beer koozies.
 
In the end, what Kavanaugh and Curtiss have really figured out is how to appeal to a vast foodie audience in a simple and sleek atmosphere. Western Daughters is a Denver butcher shop that favors the craft approach exemplified by the city's ever-growing ranks of picklers, brewers, bakers and makers.

Photos by Kara Pearson Gwinn.

Read more articles by Julie Bielenberg.

Julie Bielenberg is a Denver-based lifestyle writer. She was a Managing Editor for a regional publication before starting Tweeter Communications, her editorial services and public relations boutique.
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