Lucian Matoushek helps run family meet processing business

PHOTO BY CAITLIN ZERA/ The Journal Lucian Matoushek stands next to his promotional sign at The Farmer's Larder in Washington, Mo.

For Lucian Matoushek’s 25th birthday, the Matoushek family made sushi.

“We were all in the kitchen making sushi, when none of us had made it before,” Anne Matoushek, Lucian’s mother, said. “That’s kind of an example of how we just could all get together and everybody take something and start cooking.”

Lucian Matoushek, a 2007 film production alumnus, grew up creating food with his family. He remembers making movies with his cousins as a child. Lucian Matoushek took greater interest in film when he reached college.

Although he had steady work freelancing, when the economy worsened Lucian Matoushek found it harder to find work. He left the film business and collaborated with his culinary family. In May 2010, Lucian Matoushek and his parents opened The Farmers’ Larder. That’s when Matoushek’s career shifted from film production to food production.

Lucian Matoushek and his parents, Anne and Tom Matoushek, discussed potential business ideas. They wanted to focus on sustainable agriculture and environmentally conscience food production. They considered raising animals, but settled on the meat-processing concept for The Farmers’ Larder.

The kitchen had always been a place of bonding for the family.

“We all liked being in the kitchen at home and working in our kitchen and being creative there…It’s really what we have in common,” Lucian Matoushek said.

His father had always wanted to start a business. Lucian Matoushek, with no family to support, thought it was a good time in his life to take that risk.

Sustainable agriculture had always been an interest of Lucian Matoushek’s father, Tom Matoushek.

“The land, the top soil, the ability to create food and fiber off of what you have…That is so basic to human existence that it seems really important to me,” Tom Matoushek said.

Tom Matoushek also felt there was a need in the sustainable agriculture community for a business like theirs.

The night before their first farmers market in May 2010 was a long night for the Matoushek family. They stayed up until 1 a.m. packaging their products. Despite the exhausting preparation, Lucian Matoushek enjoyed his first day at the market.

“We really like being out there and selling our product and explaining it, knowing that we made it and people were buying something that we created,” Lucian Matoushek said. “It was really exciting. It was very stressful. And it was absolutely exhausting.”

Matoushek said he gained necessary skills for meat-processing by reading, asking other processors questions, going to workshops and making a lot of mistakes. This learning process, from conception of The Farmers’ Larder to their first day selling at a farmers market, took approximately two years.

Lucian and Anne Matoushek rented the back of an old grocery store near their home in Washington, Mo. It already had equipment for meat processing. Lucian Matoushek picks up meat from a slaughterhouse in Washington. Then Anne and Lucian Matoushek chop and grind the meat back at the store.

They season their products with spices. Tom Matoushek has a full time job, but helps with the entire process when he can.

The Farmers’ Larder uses livestock from family farms. Their beef comes from a farm that feeds cows grass. Their hogs come from a non-organic farm, but the farm raises the hogs naturally outdoors.

Lucian Matoushek recognizes his mother keeps The Farmers’ Larder business running smoothly.

“She is the reason everything stays running during the week,” Lucian Matoushek said.

Anne Matoushek schedules the events for each week. She keeps track of how many hours different meats need to be thawed and smoked. She also handles The Farmers’ Larder inventory.

The Farmers’ Larder first started carrying standard items like smoked sausage and bacon. Matoushek feels they branched out when they started carrying Cajun andouille, a pork smoked sausage with a chunky texture.

The Farmers’ Larder is currently at five markets in the St. Louis area. Tom Matoushek wants the business to grow, but not at the compromise of their mission to provide local sustainable food. Lucian Matoushek would love to see his two passions, sustainable agriculture and film production, combine into one project It may be a video blog, editing together pieces on a certain subject or filming a documentary on the business.

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