Fat had a huge PR problem a decade ago. You didn’t want to be fat, so you didn’t eat fat, especially animal fats. Nobody wanted to be a lard ass.
Fats were reviled as an artery-clogging villain, well, except for French fries.
That’s when Fatworks rode to the rescue. From its company name to its line of bottled artisan tallows, lards, duck fat, ghee and schmaltz, Fatworks embraced fat. It unabashedly pushes the unpopular belief that good fats are good for you and that fat makes foods taste good.
“Back then people were really afraid of fat,” says David Cole, co-founder of Longmont-based Fatworks, Cole was working in the computer speech recognition industry when he was introduced to the Paleo diet. “I started eating that way and immediately found a lot of benefits. Everybody wanted to proselytize about it. One of the tenets of Paleo and keto is: Don’t be afraid of fat! They said go ahead and eat tallow and lard, but we discovered that nobody was making them,” he says.
The animal fats business is naturally dominated by the largest meatpackers. “The big lard companies like Snow Cap are just making an industrial by-product. We don’t even consider that lard,” Cole says.
One day Cole and friends bought some suet—that’s high-quality beef fat—and made tallow in a Portland, Oregon, restaurant kitchen. “Paleo people heard about it online and we launched at the beginning of the Paleo movement around 2013,” he says.
Fatworks produces the good stuff: organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, chemical-free fats from grass-fed animals.
Although Fatworks essentially created the grocery category of premium fats, others, including General Mills’ Epic brand, jumped into the market selling fats for half the price. “It is not cheap to make these. Sourcing really good animal fats from farmers who are doing it right costs a lot of money. There is consumer resistance: ‘Why should I pay $16 for a bottle of lard?’” he says.
Chefs understand why. Home cooks think it’s expensive, at least until they taste these fats.
Fatworks offers beef tallow, lamb tallow and bison tallow made only with internal suet, not exterior trim fat, for a milder, less meaty flavor.
The line of lards includes pork lard—ideal for tamales, Cole says—Texas wild boar lard, and pasture-raised leaf lard, which is exceptionally good for baking (including pies). Fatworks also offers goat’s milk ghee, cultured cow’s milk ghee, goose fat, duck fat and the highly popular organic chicken fat called Chicken Schmaltz. Schmaltz is a traditional part of Jewish cooking.
The company provides recipe suggestions including Schmaltz Hollandaise and Paleo Shakshuka.
“It’s not a complicated thing. Whatever you use a cooking oil or shortening for, you can replace with animal fats. A lot of our fats are interchangeable depending on the flavor you want,” he says. The exception would be for something like salad dressing.
Imagine your eggs fried in a little Wagyu beef tallow, or sweet potatoes fried in duck fat, or pot pie crust tenderized with chicken schmaltz. A little bit goes a long way in cooking.
There has been progress on the fat front in the past decade. “Before Fatworks, people would see canola oil as good and think lard was the crappy product. Now it’s reversed,” he says. “Now carbs are more maligned.”
Initially, Fatworks attracted consumers following the Paleo and related diets.
“Now we are getting people who just want good ingredients and to cut out the highly industrialized seed oils. They like this whole palate of flavors,” he says.
In the past decade duck fat fries and tallow fries have popped up on bistro menus, and steakhouses offer tallow candles that melt on a plate. Fats have become big in the home grilling and smoking community. “They like to inject brisket with our American Wagyu beef tallow,” Cole says.
Despite supply chain issues, Fatworks plans to expand.
“We’re going to start making candles, and a line of soap and skin care products. There are a lot of people who are anti-soy oil,” he says. Meanwhile, his search goes on for elk and deer tallow, and even camel tallow from Australia.
Fatworks fats is available at some local Natural Grocers and Walmart stores and online: fatworks.com
Local Food News
First Bite Boulder has launched the Food is Love fundraising campaign to aid families in the Boulder Valley Schools directly impacted by the Marshall Fire. First Bite will distribute $50 bundles of gift cards from Ash’Kara, Bohemian Biergarten, Cafe Aion, Corrida, Dagabi Cucina, Fringe, OAK at Fourteenth, Zucca, and other Boulder eateries. Donations support local restaurants and allow families the dignity of dining out without asking for a free meal. Information: firstbiteboulder.com/food-is-love
Boulder’s shuttered Doug’s Day Diner space at 2400 Arapahoe Avenue will be filled soon by Boulder Fresh Garden restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and Thai fare for dinner.
Words to Chew On
“One jigger of Scotch has less calories than a glass of prune juice.” —From The Fat Boy’s Calorie Guide published in 1958.