Smokehouse: A Carnivore's Paradise
by K. Andarin Arvola
The scent strikes
me as soon as I open the door to Roundman’s
Smokehouse; smoke. Better yet, smoked meats. As an avowed carnivore,
my mouth begins to salivate. If you weren’t hungry when you walked
in, you will be.
You don’t have to love meat to shop here but, boy, if you do, it’s
the place for whatever you desire; fresh, smoked, stuffed, a special cut, a two-inch
thick New York Strip?
The front fresh meat counter is run by Randy Gibson. There’s an extensive
variety; fresh lamb, beef, chicken and pork are cut up daily. (There’s
no fish except smoked.) Gibson comes up with the speciality stuffing for chicken
breasts, pork loin and chops, and skirt steak.
Roundman’s make their own sausage, both fresh and smoked. Chicken-apple
is a favorite. Most wild game can be turned into sausage, owner Stephen Rasmussen
tells me. Plus, they‘ll custom make a batch of your very own breakfast
sausage. How about some extraordinary bacon for BLT? It’s one of their
most popular products.
Roundman’s is inspected five days a week by the United States Department
of Agriculture (USDA). “It’s not a hinderance,” Rasmussen tells
me. “It’s the way we want to do things anyway, to exacting methods.”
Rasmussen explains that we’ve all become increasingly aware and concerned
with what we put into our bodies; it’s the old adage “we are what
we eat.” Therefore, they stock beef and pork range-raised in the hills
of Covelo that is then grain-finished for flavor and tenderness. They get it
from the ranch of Tim and Leanne Hurt. “We’ve had a great reception,” Rasmussen
reports. He goes on to say that there are no antibiotics and no hormones used
when raising the meat.
The Mendocino Café is one of the restaurants that uses a variety of Roundman’s
products. Gary Robinett primarily does their buying. “I’m a huge
fan of Roundman’s both professionally and personally,” Robinett says
“They’re amazing. They do everything from scratch,
use great ingredients, and have an interesting mix of products.”
He tells me they use a lot of sausage at the café. “I get a quality
sausage from Roundman’s; they’re local and they’re good, I
don’t have to go elsewhere.”
Meredith Smith has had the Mendocino Café for at least twenty-two years
and Robinett tells me that in his ten years there “I don’t ever remember
not using them. They’re our primary meat supplier.”
Of the speciality items, the most unusual is the Turducken, which is turkey,
duck and chicken stuffed with a light, spiced Cajun mixture. I’m not too
clear of the concept here—you’ll have to ask.
By pursuing her own interest in cooking and baking, owner Steve Scudder’s
wife Claudia has learned what cooks need to get the results they want.
She’s assembled a comprehensive and extensive variety of kitchen
tools from recipe books to the speciality pan needed for a given dish.
Enhancements describes the row upon row of bottled, canned and bagged
savories to add to whatever is being prepared as a meal.
Because of the federal Department of Agriculture regulations, a fisherman
can’t bring his fish in for smoking, but he could buy alder or
apple wood chips to smoke his own and get an abundance of expert advise.
For Fido there’s a freezer full of smoked beef bones and owners
send in smiling photos of happy pets.
Because of the amount of visitors to the coast, they do a good business
with mail orders which they ship nationwide.
Need some bones for soup stock? They’ve got both veal and beef
bones. What about fresh corned beef and marinated tri-tip? They’ve
got it covered.
And let’s not forget that they buy cheeses from all over the
county and the world and smoke it themselves.
Currently there are four principle owners at Roundman’s; Stephen
Rasmussen, Steve and Claudia Scudder and Vaughn Thorpe. They go back
a long way, decades in the Bay Area and in one case before birth. Before
Stephen Rasmussen was born, his parents were friends of Marilynn and
Warren Thorpe and their son Paul (now called Vaughn).
Whenever Vaughn Thorpe and Stephen Rasmussen would come up for a visit
to Fort Bragg, where Marilynn now lived, off they’d go on a beer-and-jerky
run to a local shop. Some years later the owner said it was for sale.
“I’d been widowed for four years,” Marilynn tells me, and
Rasmussen told her he “wanted a more down-to-earth life.” He’d
worked in the aerospace industry in San Jose for years and was tired of it.
“Raz and I looked into it and by March of 1994, the old Green Parrot
building (on Laurel Street in Fort Bragg) was ours. We got seven or eight weeks
of hands-on training.”
They wanted more expertise in the wholesale business. Enter Steve Scudder,
who had an extensive wholesale and restaurant background. He and he
wife Claudia were welcomed as two more partners. Then a meat market
on Main Street went out of business and they snapped it up.
Going into business was the second time Marilynn had failed retirement,
the first time was when she and her husband moved to the coast in 1987.
She’d been a librarian at the San Francisco State Public Library.
After a while she was hired at the Fort Bragg Library. “My introduction
to the library was dramatic. The building burned down.”
While it was a struggle to put together another library, the wonderful
circle of friends she met then “were a huge help when my husband
died two years later,” Marilynn says.
Vaughn (Paul) Thorpe is Marilynn Thorpe’s son. Vaughn worked
at Roundman’s for about a year-and-one-half when once again Marilynn
retired and Vaughn became an owner. “I had to do this because
she consistently ‘fails’ retirement,” he says with
He had his own reasons for moving away from San Francisco; “to
get away from ‘no parking,’ no yard for the dog and small
apartments.” It’s been a very good move for him, he says. “It’s
a relaxed environment. There’s the family obligation too, which
is a positive thing.”
While Vaughn does production in the back when needed, the public is
what he likes; retail sales and customer service. He tells me that
a common reaction is, “Wow! A small butcher shop!”
Vaughn says that he fosters the good rapport with customer service. “They
know they can ask for special cuts so they keep coming back.”
He’s awed by the amount of community support for their small
butcher shop. “When people asked for an excellent local range-fed
source of meat and we found it, people continue to come in and buy
Steve Scudder came from a huge restaurant and wholesale meat background.
He was also the head chef at the famous Seagull Inn in Mendocino during
its heyday. His wife, Claudia, does the books and is the buyer for
the speciality retail products.
Besides the owners, daughter Stevie Scudder does retail, helps with
wholesale and mail order and, as with many folks up here, also has
her own business, In Local Hands, massage therapy. Faron Pettys is
another Scudder daughter and works mainly retail.
Although not everyone is related, there is a lot of connection with
the employees. Joan Cottrell handles retail, helps with wholesale and
mail order. Cindy Partridge works primarily retail. David Martinez
has been with the company since the beginning and delivers products
up and down the coast.
The fabulous display of fresh meat is the job of Fort Bragg local Randy
Gibson. He’s the head meat cutter, as he was at Mendosa’s
in Mendocino. “I’ve been cutting about ten years,” he
says. “It’s interesting, especially the sausages and the
stuffings. I like to get new ideas from cooking programs.”
“We have no turnover in employees,” Rasmussen tells me. “Everyone
is responsible for the ongoing success of the business. We all, together, make
And it is work, it’s a physically demanding business because
of the weight of half sides of beef and pork, in particular. “If
you look around, you won’t see any small people here,” Rasmussen
As with most of us on the coast, we have to pick which community project
to support. Roundman’s supports several on a regular basis.
In collaboration with The MacCallum House they put on a barbecue
on the Fourth of July weekend which supports MUSE [Mendocino Unified
School Enrichment programs] in Mendocino.
Another is the annual Toy Run for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. It’s
always the first weekend of December, on the Saturday. They meet at
Harvest Market on motorcycles or in classic cars and parade up Main
Street in Fort Bragg and then to the Lion’s Club on Redwood.
A new unwrapped toy is admission for the marinated tri-tip dinner.
The only time in over a decade they missed volunteering at the local
hospital foundation’s charity event Winesong! was when there
was a college graduation in the family.
Neighbor Mandi Liberty from Paws for Cats and Dogs has a huge commitment
to the, especially homeless, animals of the north coast. She bakes
dog cookies to raise money for animals. “Roundman’s have
been absolutely phenomenal. When I first moved next door I knew I wanted
their meat for my cookies. I explained what I needed and asked for
a price,” she says. “Within hours they said they’d
donate the meat.”
Here on Main Street in Fort Bragg we have a small speciality butcher
shop run by local people and their families dedicated to quality products
for those of us who live here and our many visitors.
412 North Main Street
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Here are some
other places that serve products from Roundman’s.
Check them out!
418 North Main Street
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
10451 Lansing Street
Mendocino, CA 95460
Little River Inn
7751 North Highway 1
Little River, CA 95456
Purple Rose The Mexican Restaurant
24300 North Highway 1
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
at The Wharf
32260 North Harbor Drive
P.O. Box 1429
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
10483 Lansing Street
Mendocino, CA 95460
124 East Laurel Street
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
131 East Laurel Street
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Here’s some ideas for new meals from Roundman’s
Smokehouse. For something different for the holidays, try the Crown
Roast of Pork.
Crown Roast of
Pork with Apple, Cranberry and Pecan Stuffing—Serves
24-rib crown roast of pork
Salt and pepper, freshly ground, to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 Fuji or McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch dice
1 package La Brea Bakery harvest blend stuffing
1 packet dried cranberries (included with stuffing)
1 packet toasted pecans (included with stuffing)
4 cups chicken or turkey stock, warmed
the pork roast on all sides with salt and pepper. Let sand at room
temperature for one hour. Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing: in a fry
pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, celery
and apples. Sauté until tender and caramelized, fourteen
to sixteen minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl, add
the stuffing, cranberries and pecans, and stir until well combined.
Add the stock, one cup at a time, stirring to evenly moisten the croutons.
Season with salt and pepper. Position a rack in the lower third of
an oven and preheat to four hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Place the roast
in a large roasting pan. Spoon seven cups of the stuffing into the
center of the roast and roast for one hour, then reduce temperature
to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue roasting until the meat is slightly
pink in the center and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the
thickest part of the roast, away from the bone, registers 140 degrees
Fahrenheit, forty to fifty minutes more. Remove the roasting pan from
the oven. Using two large metal spatulas, carefully transfer the roast
to a large carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let
rest for twenty minutes before carving. To serve, scoop the stuffing
from the center of the roast onto individual plates. Carve the roast
between the bones and serve immediately.
Salmon Jerky Pasta
1/4 pound salmon jerky
1 can chicken broth
1 pint sour cream
1 teaspoon dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat chicken broth, add cooked pasta, crumbled salmon jerky pieces,
sour cream and dill, salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir together.
Grilled Lamb with Walnut-Mint Pesto
4 ten-ounce lamb shoulder chops
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 large rosemary sprigs
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 small garlic clove, peeled
2 1/4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Lamb: Combine all ingredients in large bowl, turn chops to coat in
oil. Let stand one hour. Pesto: Blend first five ingredients to a course
puree. Mix in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat
large skillet. Add chops with rosemary mixture. Cook, four minutes
per side. Transfer to plates, top with pesto.
1/2 pound hanger steak
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice or white wine
4 teaspoons fajita seasoning
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Add hanger steak to marinade for one hour at room temperature. Add
salt and pepper to each side before frying. Fry in olive oil about
five minutes per side for medium rare.