FRONTENAC — The house in Frontenac looks like any other on the block. That is until you get close enough to smell the aroma coming from the garage. This is where meat connoisseur Matthew DeMoss makes his magic.
DeMoss got his start in homemade gourmet meat products young, going to sausage making parties with old family friends from Girard. The loss of that tradition locally motivated DeMoss to pick up the process again as a hobby and expand on it. That is until his wife finally decided it needed a home of its own.
“My wife put her foot down and said she didn’t want half a pig in the house, so we made me a place in the garage,” DeMoss said.
The ‘place’ is a miniature butcher and curing shop carved out of the garage in a way you’d almost miss it. A sign, and the smell, make sure you keep looking. The menu on the wall is stocked with various smoked and cured meats, everything from fresh sausage to charcuterie.
A smoker in the backyard puffs away. DeMoss pulls bacon off of it while he explains how the hobby grew from a something he liked to do, to something people started paying for.
“At first it was just friends asking to buy from me, but then it grew, so we decided to go for it,” DeMoss said.
DeMoss was not on his own though. He explained that while he was learning old recipes from friends and family he had help from other local businesses.
“Pallucca’s has been very good to me,” DeMoss said “They have loaned me freezer room, suggestions, whatever they could.”
While it may seem odd for businesses in the same field to help each other, DeMoss said that it was more important to Pallucca’s that they both succeed than to be competitive.
“I had enough help that I was able to let the business grow organically.” Demoss said. “My wife has been great as well, she’s the brains of the outfit.”
That outfit has grown from just a few items a month to a long list of weekly offerings at the Pittsburg Farmers Market. DeMoss is also a regular at popular shops in Kansas City like Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Williams and Sonoma.
The most popular items on DeMoss’s menu can take time to prep and cure. Which he said he doesn’t mind. “The longer it takes to prepare, the better it tastes.” he said.
DeMoss is also a big advocate of not just how his product tastes, but where the pork comes from. “I buy my pork from a responsible breeder near Springfield,” DeMoss said “They are pasture raised, and have the best life ever, with the exception of one day. That's how it should be.”
DeMoss said that pork raised properly and under low stress conditions is not only ethically better, but makes a better product as well.
“You can taste it. Pork raised well looks better, tastes better, and makes the end product much higher quality,” he said.
DeMoss has big plans for his little business. He’s hoping to continue to grow, someday having a larger shop and broader menu.
“I think we really can make this area a food destination, like you see in Arkansas,” DeMoss said. People heading to Kansas City or Branson should want to stop here, and hopefully we can encourage them to do so.”
The measure of success though has already been met for DeMoss, as he said he can’t imagine doing anything else.
“I’ve never had a hobby or a job that made me want to get out of bed in the morning and go to it. This one does,” he said. “People want to cook good food at home, and I want to help them do it. That’s not a bad way to make a living.”
More information on the Meat Shed can be found on their website, www.meatshedks.com.