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Erika Nakamura ’04

Interviewed By: 
Christian Feuerstein '94

Photo by Jennifer May

Erika Nakamura '04Erika Nakamura ’04 didn't start out wanting to be a butcher. "I was a visual arts major!" she laughs. "I was always inclined to work with my hands." However, after a stint in Brooklyn and meeting her now-wife, Amelia Posada, Nakamura apprenticed with renowned butcher Joshua Applestone of Fleisher's Grass-fed and Organic Meats in Kingston, NY, and moved back to Posada's hometown of LA to start their own sustainable butchery, Lindy & Grundy. "The way I see it," she says, "what I do is subtractive sculpture. I get this tremendously creative rush [from butchering]." Even though Lindy & Grundy is only a month away from opening, she talked about traditional Antioch College elements, capital, and food education.

Was there a professor who made a huge impact on your life? Steve Schwerner. I bumped into him in Prospect Park [when I was in] Brooklyn. I did the History of Modern Jazz with him—it will stay with me forever. One of my biggest heroes. Nevin Mercede—Nevin and I have a really special relationship. She was willing to give me certain guidance. She really helped me realize this dream.

What's your favorite memory of Antioch College? There's so many of them. I have to say, most of my closest friends right now are my closest friends from Antioch. I had 30 Antiochian kids at [my] wedding. I think my experience as a community manager, as dreadful as it was sometimes, made me realize that Yellow Springs is very much home. Those are my favorite things about Antioch College. Oh, and the shared governance structure.

Any stirring words of wisdom about the independence of Antioch College? I was so bummed when it all came crashing down. I didn't take an active role because of my experience as community manager. It always makes me emotional because you can't underestimate the power of community. I think it's an important voice to be heard. That's really fantastic. Independent Antioch embodies the true spirit of the institution.

If you could bring one thing to the future of Antioch College, what would it be? I would like to see certain things that are more traditional at Antioch: DIV dance, the beer truck at Reunion, community meetings, certain social structures. I'd love to help with more of a food education. Let's examine the agricultural industry—how are we going to change it in some way? How can we be responsible and sustainable? It's really cool to be able to examine food in that way.

Why do you give to Antioch College? I do what I can, and that sucks, because I wish it was much, much more. I give because it can't happen without capital. Capital influences how this goes down. A little bit goes a long way.

About Lindy & Grundy: I was in Brooklyn, trying to be a struggling artist. I was about to start an MFA, but I went to culinary school [The French Culinary Institute]. I worked in commercial kitchens, but I was too relaxed for the hot line. I had already butchered some smaller animals, and I had already been attracted to it. I was working at a local and sustainable grocery store and I realized, it really felt that I belonged there—so that's really what started it.

[Amelia and I] apprenticed to a master butcher, Fleisher's, in Kingston, New York. It became pretty clear that this was the direction I wanted to move in. Amelia and I sat down and said, "Let's do this!" We got married in Connecticut and then moved out to L.A. We're about a month and a half from opening.