Jackson, Wyoming, is known for its National Parks scene, its cowboy personality and wild game-centric cuisine. Its culinary offerings are increasingly being sourced locally and sustainably.
Husband and wife team Nick and Nora Phillips at Sweet Cheeks Meats butcher shop are one of the catering options meeting planners can count on to hit all these quintessential Wyoming notes.
Meetings Today contributor Carolyn Blackburn chatted with Sweet Cheeks Meats Owner and Chef Nick Phillips, who runs the butcher shop alongside his wife Nora, about their shop’s journey and their culinary and catering offerings for meetings and events.
Meetings Today (MT): You recently opened a butcher shop, Sweet Cheeks Meats. Please share a little about your journey and how you landed in Jackson.
Nick Phillips (NP): I worked as an engineer in the hydroelectric field and was sent to the area to work on a project. My wife Nora and I fell in love with the area and wanted to stay here. We decided to make a career change and chose to open our own business.
We both love food and animals.
We saw that there was a great system in place for growing animals but not a lot of access to the meat. And so the idea of Sweet Cheeks Meats was born.
Sweet Cheeks Meats is a whole-animal butcher shop that specializes in locally, sustainably raised animals. We provide food service here, including grab-and-go breakfast, butcher board lunch and happy hours.
We also offer catering services to utilize every last part of the animals we bring into the shop.
MT: How would you define the culinary scene in Jackson?
NP: The culinary scene and talent in Jackson are doing great things.
Chefs are working harder each day to make their ordering choices and daily tasks increasingly local and more sustainable.
The hunting/fishing/tourism industry influences what chefs are putting on the menu. When people travel into Jackson and see elk and bison running around the national parks, they want to taste them from the steakhouse that night.
The reality is that the meat being brought into the restaurant was often raised many states away and does not represent the animals that are running wild in any way other than name.
MT: What is the role of food and beverage during a meeting?
NP: We have hosted corporate groups at the shop, as well as at private ranches and rental properties. These events have included butcher demos, live fire cooking and, of course, meals.
When people enjoy a well-planned meal, it brings them together in that experience and enriches the overall meeting.
MT: What is your approach to creating a memorable group dining experience?
NP: When planning for a large group or corporate event, I write each menu based on the experience they are looking for.
We don’t use preset menus where you choose the protein option.
Our menus are based on seasonal ingredients that are available through our farmers markets and CSAs, or what we have stored/preserved from the prior season.
Recently we had a group of chefs for an event where we broke down a lamb with them, then had them partake in preparing that evening’s meal from the different parts of the animal.
MT: What specialty dishes do you recommend for groups?
NP: We are a whole-animal butcher shop so our true specialty is utilizing the entire animal.
When it comes to a catering menu, this may include making stocks from the bones and then turning that stock into a delicious sauce, braising tougher cuts until they are tender and shreddy, or slow-cooking entire plates of short ribs until the bones fall away from the meat.
For large groups I am a big fan of family style meals consisting of platters for multiple people to share while seated together.
This style of meal gets the group interacting and enjoying time together.
[Read This Next: 6 Group-Friendly Restaurants in Wyoming That Specialize in Wild Game]