Hamlet Meats founder Josh Ott

Hamlet Meats founder Josh Ott

I grew up in Suburban Maryland with a big family. I went from there to Boston College where I played football and dedicated much of my life to my teammates and my performance on the field. After a few years of football in Italy, I found myself here—in New York City—working in the cable TV industry. A big family and a dedication to sports meant I was health conscious, but like most of us growing up in suburban / urban America in the 80s and 90s, I never thought twice about the source of my food, and what may or may not be hazardous in the process of a steak or a vegetable going from the farm to my plate.

In my adult life friends introduced me to hunting. Missing the football field, I loved the camaraderie, the strategy, and the glory in tangible success. The element I didn’t predict as rewarding, which ultimately became the most life changing, was bringing home my victories to prepare for friends. Being raised in a big family and finding a strong community in Harlem  I love a big dinner table with good food and wine. I now not only could care for and show love to loved ones through dinners, but also through carefully choosing the game I would prepare based on the personality and preferences of my diners.

As a 33 year old African American male living in the heart of Harlem a universe was quickly unlocked where I knew where my food was coming from, that it had eaten in its natural habitat for its whole life, and that it hadn’t be sprayed, injected, or tortured.  As I became more passionate about this, and shared more and more meals with friends, I realized my immediate community was interested in having the same connection with their food even if they weren’t looking to spend weekends in the backcountry with a rifle.

As my love of hunting and the outdoors grew I supplemented my own game with kosher killed, grass fed beef from my best friend’s farm in Southern Maryland that I practically grew up on. I knew these animals spent their days in gorgeous green pastures overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, before they were humanely slaughtered and packaged as food.

And so, Hamlet Meat was born. Hamlets are a protected community within a larger community. Spending lots of time upstate looking at farmland, camping, and hunting, I constantly came across these small sheltered communities—a concept that was completely new to me. Sharing more wholesome, more conscious, more connected nourishment with friends and family in a sea of questionable, unidentifiable, and mishandled goods was rewarding to say the least. This new passion of mine allowed me to show people love and care in a way I felt was protective—contributing to their well being. I hope that as Hamlet Meats grows, it proves to be a resource and haven for others. A community within a community, where my buyers know each farm is hand picked for the care they give their animals, the attention to their diets, and the manner in which they kill them.

I started three years ago buying one steer from the farm and giving much of that animal away to friends who were interested.  Year two I sold shares oftwo steers at cost to the people who were interested.  Year three I purchased 4 animals and started the business by selling those animals for profit, they sold out relatively quickly…today the demand for a trusted product continues to grow.

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