Pat LaFrieda’s first foray into the meat world began in the summer of 1981 at age 10, when he began learning the tricks of the meat trade from sunrise to sundown under the watchful eye of his forefathers. That summer changed the course of his life: 28 years later, he owns and operates New York City’s most prestigious and most valued meat packing facility.
Ironically, Patrick Sr., the 2nd generation of LaFrieda butchers never wanted his son to become a permanent fixture in the business. With the sole intention to teach his son about strong work ethic, Pat Sr. introduced his son (as his father introduced him) to working in a constant 36 degree environment, standing for hours on end, working under the dangers of band saws and knives – all with the hopes that his son would turn around and get an office job. Fortunately, for the restaurants of New York, his plan backfired.
“There was something about what we did and how we did it that fascinated me. The thought that being successful meant that the family survived…was poetic to me,” LaFrieda Jr. says. But he knew that in order to keep the poetry alive, things had to change. With only five employees and 40 customers, Pat hit the streets and started selling the brand that has won him accolades within the New York community including, New York Magazine, which dubbed Pat “the magician of meat.”
Today, LaFrieda Meats boasts over one thousand customers and is rapidly growing. The business runs seven days a week, around the clock. That unmatched LaFrieda work ethic not only gained notoriety but earned respect; so much respect that in 2003 New York City renamed the street where the shop was once located to Pat LaFrieda Lane after the first generation of LaFrieda meat men.
Selling to the finest restaurants around the country including Manhattan, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, D.C., Miami and Chicago, Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors is synonymous with quality. As the New York Post put it, “If carnivores really want to get respect, they need to name-drop cult butchers like Pat LaFrieda.”
Famous for their “chopped” not ground meat, Pat has created over 50 custom hamburger blends and is the mastermind behind such burgers as the famous “Black Label Burger” at Minetta Tavern as well as signature custom blends at hot spots such as Shake Shack, Spotted Pig, Blue Smoke, and Market Table.
On April 9, 2012, Food Network debuted “MEATMEN,” the reality show that followed Pat, his father Pat LaFrieda Sr. and his cousin Mark Pastore through their daily work, meeting with the most famous chefs around in the most sought-after restaurants.
On the heels of their first reality show debut, on August 7, 2012 LaFrieda Meats marked another milestone for the family business when they opened their first retail location at Citi Field – the home of the New York Mets – with a Pat LaFrieda Original Filet Mignon Steak Sandwich kiosk. But it didn’t end there. On April 1, 2013 LaFrieda Meats and the New York Mets announced an expansion of their partnership at Citi Field, opening a second Pat LaFrieda Original Filet Mignon Steak Sandwich stand as well as a full service restaurant, the Pat LaFrieda Chop House. And in 2014, LaFrieda Meats become the official burger of the Mets, in addition to adding a Meatball Slider stand.
In fall 2014, Atria Books published Pat’s comprehensive, photo-laden first book, Meat: Everything You Need to Know. The book is a veritable meat encyclopedia from which home cooks can learn Pat’s best meat tips, recipes, stories and more.
Pat’s most recent project was the opening of his first Manhattan location in January 2016 within the walls of The Pennsy, New York City’s innovative culinary destination located above one of the city’s most-traveled terminals and at the front door of the World’s Most Famous Arena. Currently Pat sells made-to-order signature sandwiches as well as a la carte fresh meat options.
LaFrieda has been featured in such esteemed outlets as The New York Times, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, New York Magazine, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, Men’s Vogue, Saveur, CNN, and Time Out New York. He has also appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, Fox & Friends, The Chew, The Rachael Ray Show, The Food Network, Martha Stewart, ABC News Nightline, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, and The Mike Colemeco show on PBS.READ LESS