Mike Phillips on Green Ox, His New Meat Company

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Chef Mike Phillips has built a strong local reputation in recent years for his work at the Craftsman, particularly for putting together what many consider the best charcuterie plate in the Upper Midwest, and among the best in the country.

Now, he’s leaving the Craftsman and going into business with Kieran Folliard, whose Cara Pubs (The Local, Kieran’s, Cooper, and The Liffey) are local powerhouses. The two will be partners in a new venture called Green Ox Foods, “an innovative food production subsidiary to provide artisan meat products and charcuterie,” according to a PDF press release issued today. “Our long-term objective is to develop Green Ox into a brand that gives our region an artisan food product with far ranging retail distribution.”

We chatted by phone with Phillips about his new venture.

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

What are the initial hurdles you need to clear before you launch?

There are so many hoops to jump through — we’re still looking for a large space to make fresh sausage, and we’ve got to deal with putting together a HACCP plan, and other details.

When can we start tasting this new product?

Hopefully by this coming St. Patrick’s Day [Mar. 17] — that would be a best-case scenario. But we’d like to start doing a charcuterie plate at The Local in the next couple of months.

What’s the story with the new facility you’re working on?

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

It’s a cool project — it’ll be synergistic with a commissary kitchen for Cara Pubs. When I’ve thought about this idea over the years, one of the main challenges was having some kind of anchor product to support the project while meat aged out — salami, you know, takes three months, copa three months, hams can take three years. So sausage for the pubs, that’s the anchor. We’ll be producing bacon and ham, too, using whole animals.

How’d you come up with the name?

That’s all Kieran — the idea was to tie the product to the region. So the ox is a reference to Paul Bunyan, and green is about sustainability and environmental awareness — and also a nod to Irish heritage.

What’s this mean for the Midwest?

All over the world, you see regional pride in product — it really irked me when Bertolli came here and took our pigs for their products… I thought: “Wait a minute, those are our pigs!” So we’re taking them back.

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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18 Comments

  1. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

  2. any word on who will run the kitchen at craftsman? will the menu remain the same?

  3. Author

    Haven’t yet heard about the evolution of Craftsman, but we’ll let you know when we do.

  4. cool – thank you. (i’m hoping they keep it mostly the same…maybe extend the bar hours a bit.)

  5. the sous chef, ben (i think) will be exec chef at craftsman.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. [...] efforts here; we awarded him our first annual Silver Whisk for Best Chef. SECOND UPDATE, Aug. 9: We interviewed Phillips about his new venture. UPDATE, Aug. 9: Phillips will be working as a subsidiary of Cara Pubs, the [...]

  2. [...] this in mind, I want to congratulate, my friend, Mike Philips on his latest project Green Ox. [...]

  3. [...] look at Szechuan Spice at Lynlake, Rick interviews departing Craftsman chef Mike Phillips about Green Ox Foods, Rachel sizes up the Justin Grecco two-restaurant, one product-line food dynasty, and the Campus [...]

  4. [...] chef, Ben Jacoby (aka the “Brunch Guy“), will be taking the helm on August 19th after Mike Phillips’ last day on August 18th. Jacoby has been with Phillips for awhile and they’ve been working hand-in-hand for a smooth [...]

  5. [...] I am, trying to settle into the idea that Mike Phillips has packed up his lardo and toast and left the Craftsman. Now, in the course of inquiring about said favorite drink, I find out that Steve Filla, who [...]

  6. [...] whom Weaver cooked at The Craftsman and who is offering artisanal cured meats at his new endeavor, Green Ox Foods, will talk about charcuterie; Andrew Kopplin, of Kopplin’s Coffee in St. Paul will give his [...]

  7. [...] to be our lot in life this summer.  Oh well, what can we do?  The chefs were Mike Phillips from Green Ox, Jim Grell and Phillip Brecht from Modern Cafe and Tracy Singleton, Marshall Paulson and Collette [...]

  8. [...] Fall is here and we’re celebrating at Oliver Kelly Farm!  Our chef was Mike Phillips from Green Ox.  Wine was brought by Chuck Kanski, of Solo Vino and  beer was provided by Rush [...]

  9. [...] weekend! Looks like it was a beautiful day at Oliver Kelly Farm!  The chef was Mike Phillips from Green Ox.  Wine was brought by Chuck Kanski, of Solo Vino and  beer was provided by Rush [...]

  10. [...] For five years, Chef Mike Phillips was the heart of The Craftsman and his cooking (and work on the restaurant’s famous cured meats) helped shape the place into one of the premier spots for locavores in the know. But as any Craftsman fan knows, Phillips left the restaurant late this summer in order to start an artisanal meat company called Green Ox Foods. [...]

  11. [...] Scott Pampuch of Corner Table; and Mike Phillips, formerly of The Craftsman, now cofounder of Green Ox. Local bizarre-eater Andrew Zimmern wrote the introduction and national stars Dan Barber and Joel [...]

  12. [...] But, why sausage? “I was thinking about beer, winter, Mardi Gras, the German festival Fasching. Sausage is a good winter food,” said Iggers (above, right, with Twin Cities Daily Planet arts editor Jay Gabler) . “There’s also been a sausage explosion in the Twin Cities, with the [upcoming] Butcher and the Boar, with Green Ox.” [...]

  13. [...] the gang at the local and mike philips of green ox (here’s a little profile of green ox on heavy table). not only was everyone extremely friendly and excited to have us food bloggers there, but also [...]

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