Toby is from Poche Bridge, a small community in South Louisiana that is predominantly inhabited by people of Cajun and Creole descent. This area of the French bayou, referred to as Acadiana, has not completely surrendered to the machine of corporate farming and its sterile crop. Prior to the invasion of Big Oil, Acadiana remained practically untouched by industrialism due to its swampy and remote nature. Today this land continues to cradle a culture proud of its heritage and traditions, most of which are based in the survival of its people. Toby is son of a sixth-generation sugarcane farmer who decades ago left his fields defeated by NAFTA and the U.S. importation of cheap sugar. Today Toby honors this battle in his own efforts and actions. Childhood on a farm comes with a constant lesson of survival, based in both life and death and taught by an unassuming instructor... the crop. The Rodriguez family raised their own, caretakers from seed to slaughter. They were taught to harvest with a tone of respect and acknowledgment of a crops moral value. Their butchering process, like other local disciplines, is culturally specific to the diversity of the fore-farmers of this sleepy, fertile pocket of the Gulf Coast. Learning these traditions as a child, the magnitude of the lesson or its future importance was unfathomable. It was an unrealized gift, an old-world skill on the verge of extinction... La Boucherie, a way of life defining of its people, slowly being reduced to the nostalgia of an historical reenactment.
Today Toby stands as an advocate for these traditions, teaching its fundamentals and publicly performing its process on the home front and across the United States. He's shared the tradition of the boucherie in Homer, AK, Charleston, SC, Brooklyn, NY, Montpelier, VT, Port Townsend, WA, St. Louis, MO, Nashville, TN, Houston, TX, Detroit, MI, Chapel Hill, NC, and of course New Orleans and Lafayette, LA, These boucheries act as clinics for the butchers, chefs, farmers and serious foodies whom are all overwhelmed with concern for our meat source and its production. A natural part of our survival, an action that was once part of daily life, has now become a life altering experience. It's hard to believe that this beautiful labor has been surrendered to unworthy powers, trading it for a plastic wrapped abomination of this lost art. This drives Toby's crusade and validates its necessity. The emotion that surrounds the butchering table never fails to inspire, reminding all present of their humanity. The emotional attachment to our food source has been lost, an essential part of being human. These boucheries unlock that primal bond. For some, maybe for the first time... but for all, definitely not the last.
Toby has appeared on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, Top Chef, Vice Munchies, with Eric Greenspan on NatGeo and recently again with Anthony Bourdain on Parts Unknown. He has also been featured in the New Yorker, the New York Post, Vice, Saveur, Bon Appetit, The Local Palate, Country Roads Magazine, Runaway Dish Magazine and multiple local publications. He has traveled to Italy to teach at The Institute for Gastronomic Science in Bra (Piedmont) and has cooked for Magnus Neilson of Faviken. He is a member of Slow Food Nola and traveled as a delegate to Denver, CO for Slow Meat and to Torino, Italy for Terra Madre. He is also a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, attending the fall symposium in Oxford, MS..