Butcher Bettie is a chef, butcher, Navy Veteran, and a television and radio personality. She owns Butcher Betties, a Meatcentric gourmet brand located in Cincinnati, OH and also owned her own butcher shop Butcher Betties Meats and Sweets which was sold in Oct 16 to pursue building her brand, a television concept with Food Network, a restaurant concept and write a cookbook. Butcher Bettie has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, City Beat, 700wlw, Fox19, Wcpo, and many more.
Per Polly Campbell(CIN ENQ):
Allison Hines was trying to figure out what to do next. She'd already served two years in the Navy, been a flight attendant, gone to culinary school on the G.I. Bill and been a chef for a large food service company. Her next move was start her own business, though she wasn't exactly sure what it would be. So her husband suggested that she make three lists: What she knew how to do, what she wanted to learn, and what she loved.
Under "know how to do" she had marketing, talking to people, coming up with ideas and cooking. She'd learned to cook in the Navy, by making big dinners for fellow sailors who couldn't go home for the holidays, and in restaurants as a second job all her life. Under "want to learn" she had butchery, and under "what she loved" was a lot of things, including dressing like a pin-up girl, taking inspiration from the pin-up queens of the past such as Betty Grable and Bettie Page.
"Surely we couldn't invent a Bettie-themed butcher shop," she said.
"I think we just did," said her husband.
About eight months later, in February 2014, Butcher Betties made its debut in Friendly Market in Florence. It's a meat market run by a woman who wields a cleaver while wearing her hair in 40's-style victory rolls or a Rosie the Riveter scarf with a flower, an avatar for Hines that conveys both strength and femininity.
The desire to learn butchery had come about from an experience she'd had when working as a chef. For a dinner at the Midwest Culinary Institute with the theme of "locavore," she had lined up locally-raised chickens to use. Her planned-on chickens didn't come through, and she put out a call for more. "I've got six chickens for you," answered Trisha Houston of Napoleon Ridge Farm. "But they're alive."
She had no idea what to do with live chickens. She called her father-in-law, who'd grown up on a farm, to help her. In a backyard in Anderson Township, she had him show her how to kill one, then she did the rest.
"When you take the life of an animal for food, it changes you forever. It was the most spiritual experience of my life," she said. "And I realized why chicken used to be a luxury item. Killing six chickens, dunking them, plucking and eviscerating them, it was exhausting."
Once she'd decided on butchery, she went to one of the best butcher shops in town, Avril-Bleh Meat Market on Court Street.
"I told them I'd work for free for 18 months, if they would teach me," she said. "Len Bleh was very open to it: he wanted to pass on what he knew, because his kind of butchery could become a lost art. They took me in like family. I owe them a lot."
Before the 18 months were up, an opportunity came up to take over the meat counter at Friendly Market in Florence.
"My mother always told me I had more bravery than sense." she said. "But I had to do it."
Friendly Market is modeled on Findlay Market, with several small vendors gathered under one large roof. It's tucked away behind Kroger on Norbotten Drive.
Hines's goal in selling meat is to convey a little of the sense she had when she slaughtered chickens.
"I realized that the chickens I'd slaughtered represented one order of chicken wings at a wings restaurant. I want people to not take their food for granted, to understand that we nourish animals so they can nourish us."
She sells locally-raised meats, grass-fed beef, pastured pork. It requires creating a personal relationship with customers, most of whom are repeats.
In her free time, she and her pin-up friends like to dress up and do their hair and make-up.
"I have a pool party every week in the summer. We sit around the pool in our vintage bathing suits, with cat-eye sunglasses and parasols and wear our jewelry in the pool. Pin-up is about feeling beautiful no matter what your body type," she said.
They also go to veteran’s events, including greeting honor flights when they return to the Cincinnati airport. "We line up and give them all kisses and hugs." She was especially pleased to be able to do that for the first all-female honor flight. "I'm a veteran, and I have 5 women in my family that have served in the Navy going back to World War II" She says her decision to join the Navy was the best thing she ever did for herself.
Bacon Lady Marmalade will be the first of the gourmet line launching soon. Second will be The Bloody Bettie, which is a blood mary mix formulated for Bourbon
Butcher Bettie is dedicated to veterans events, and protecting children. She will be competing for The Northern Kentucky Childrens Advocacy Center and the Yellow Ribbon Support Center.