By William Deeks
When I met Judy on a warm August afternoon, she had a compact Jansport backpack that is subtly thinner than the normal model. Upon asking her about it, she tells me that it got her through all of college. For all its years of use, it is remarkably clean and maintained.
“I like to keep my things clean, organized, and compact.”
Born in Taiwan and arriving in the United States at age 14 for high school, Judy continued on to Wellesley College to major in political science. A proclivity to work with her hands coincided with an observation that she found herself constantly looking forward to breaks from study when she would cook with, and for, her schoolmates and friends. After graduation from Wellesley, she began working at Clover Food Lab in Kendall Square, moving from fry cook to assistant manager in a year.
From Clover, she enlisted as a butcher’s apprentice under Chris Walker at Savenor’s Butcher Shop in Cambridge. There she spent two years learning the ins and outs of breaking down animals. From stocks and soups to chuck roast and filet mignon, she put her head down and opened up her ears.
“I spent one month straight just doing stocks. From there, Chris showed me the process of the chuck and then said, ‘here is the chuck’- and had me do it everyday after that, so it was all about learning from repetition.”
Chris turned into a valuable teacher for Judy. Helping her realize her goals based around learning.
“Chris would ask me, ‘what's on your list? What do you want to learn?’ I was very grateful to be in an environment like that.”
All of that repetition and focus has paid off. Working with Chris, she helped Juliet in launching its Steakhouse menu that is gearing up for its second year, and was a favorite of first time diners and neighborhood regulars.
Judy taught a class to the Juliet staff in how to break down chuck shoulder this past summer. In watching her teach, one can witness her approach to the craft of butchering and cooking. She moves with both purpose and care, and no single moment- or piece of the animal- is wasted.
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We hope you enjoyed this story from Of Juliet staff writer William Deeks. Deeks is also one of Juliet, the restaurant’s, first sous chefs.