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Of course, Bigelow isn't the first or last female to enter the trade (in fact, there is another woman currently apprenticing at the Meat Hook). Minus the media whoring, Sara's young career has something in common with that of Julie Powell—the oversharing author of Julie & Julia and Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession. Powell, too, was turned away from several NYC shops before securing an apprenticeship at Fleischer's, where Tom Mylan sharpened his knife skills. "There aren't a lot of butcher shops wanting to let some clueless chick behind their counter... I had to search for someone willing to teach me," Powell said in an interview with USA Today. While Powell abandoned a real career as a butcher once her book was published, Sara is in it for the long haul—but she's keenly aware that what she's done is considered a novelty. When asked by new acquaintances how she makes a living, "I say what I do, and wait for the follow-up questions." Although Sara was happy to toss around some ideas for a website geared towards women interested in butchery, she indicated no immediate plans to brand herself—she'd just like to keep doing what she's doing now.
"I want to keep working in this world... most of the guys I work with now have worked in kitchens for years, and I don't have that experience. I've got office experience to fall back on, I suppose, but if I'm going to continue working in the food world, it's going to have to be based on the bit of experience I have now, and whatever I gain moving forward. I'm not worried, though."
Photos by Lizz Kuehl