What Does A Master Meat Crafter Do?

What Does A Master Meat Crafter Do?

Nolechek’s is proud to have Chad Nolechek, a Master Meat Crafter, on our team! Offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Meat Science program, participants spend two years learning various elements of meat science. When participants are finished they have obtained a well-rounded, in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the science behind making sausage, which makes a big difference in crafting quality product.

Chad was a member of the graduating class of 2012-2014, celebrating on January 17th 2014. He found the program beneficial and developed a better appreciation and understanding of the science and technical aspect of meat processing. The structure of the program and classroom setting created a more in-depth experience that he anticipated when he began. 

Investing two years and a significant amount of time to the program requires commitment. Not only in the case of the business financially investing in the individual, but from the individual that is completing the program. Chad committed to not only investing his time to the program but continued his responsibilities at Nolechek’s Meats. Chad’s contributions to Nolechek’s include a better understanding of the effects of cheese on the fermentation and shelf stability of snack sticks, which was his plant project. He also worked to develop our Original and Italian Salami products, which are unique, small batch product that have quickly become a fan favorite. And the beef brisket strips? Chad had a hand in those, too!

Chad is such a valuable asset to the team and it has been awesome watching him work next to his dad, Kelly, over the past year. Kelly has over four decades of knowledge to pass along regarding our smokehouses, sausage making, and all the processes that make our sausage what it is today. And we are proud that Chad is here to carry on that legacy and learn from the best!

How do you get accepted?

Acceptance is based on having at least 5 years of experience, taken an accredited HACCP course, along with completed a general meat processing short course, such as the Wisconsin Meat Processing school; and finally, completing the training program application.

What do you learn in the program?


Participants are expected to complete four different program elements, within a 2 year time period, once accepted into the program. All workshops include presentation, demonstrations, and product manufacturing. Experts from industry and academia serve as instructors and all participants travel to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for training.

Program elements include:

  1. Six 2 ½ day workshops on the following subjects:

                        Food Safety & Meat Microbiology

                        Fresh Meats School

                        Cooked & Emulsified Sausage School

                        Fermented & Dry-Cured Meat Products School

                        Meat Curing School

                        Business & Marketing School

  1. Participants must develop their own mentoring program and work with a team member to share the knowledge and principles learned from the Master Meat Crafter Training Program.
  1. Participants also must conduct a plant project that includes research and development and application of a small in-plant study on a topic of choice.

The Master Meat Crafter graduating class of 2012-2014

Row 1 (seated left to right): Anton Washa (Foley Locker, Inc. Foley, MN), Jennifer Dierkes (McDonald’s Meats, Inc. Clear Lake, MN), Thomas Heise (Custom Meats of Marathon, Inc. Marathon, WI), Terrance Prem (Prem Meats, Spring Green, WI), Bradley Pearson (Lodi Sausage Co. Lodi, WI). Row 2 (left to right): Mike Flanigan (Northwoods Locker, LLC. Clayton, WI), Jamie Cline (T.A. Solberg Co. Rhinelander, WI), Gidget Joyal (Johnsonville Sausage LLC. Sheboygan Falls, WI), Louis Muench (Louie’s Finer Meats, Inc. Cumberland, WI), Andrew Pearson (Sixth Street Market Ashland, WI), John Franseen (Hewitt Meat Processing, Inc. Marshfield, WI), Joel Reck (Ski’s Meat Market, Stevens Point, WI) Ralph Krawczyk (Wixon Inc. St. Francis, WI). Row 3 (left to right): Nathan Jorgensen (Peroutka’s Meat Processing, Antigo, WI), Kurtis Lam (Fox Brothers Piggly Wiggly, Oconomowoc, WI), William Muench (Louie’s Finer Meats, Inc. Cumberland, WI), Philip Schmidt (The Meat Block LLC, Greenville, WI), Mark Hanni (PS Seasonings and Spices, Iron Ridge, WI), David Mauer (Wisconsin River Meats, Mauston, WI), Chad Nolechek (Nolechek’s Meats, Inc. Thorp, WI), Anthony Reams (RJ’s Meats and Groceries, Hudson, WI).



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