Marc Metzer is now the egg man. After a crack at the corporate world, his entry into his family’s third-generation waterfowl hatchery at Metzer Farms in Gonzales has him happily singing a quirky tune.
I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together
You can tack on a “goo goo g’joob” for good measure.
“Farming is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Metzer. “Now that I’m back on the farm it is exciting taking on this family tradition and creating a new dimension to it.”
That new dimension involves fresh duck egg sales under the sub-brand Olinday Farms, named after his late grandfather Olin Metzer, who landed in the Salinas Valley in the 1960s from rural Montana. Olin’s first purchase upon arrival? A badelynge of ducks.
No, he was not a quack, although everyone called him Doc — not for his medical prowess but for his knowledge of the language. He taught English to high school students in and around Gonzales, and extended those lessons to migrant workers on weekends.
In his spare time Olin tended to his large garden, with the help of his ducks, of course, who ate pesky snails and pooped in all the right places.
With the help of his son John, the proud owner of an ink-still-wet Animal Science diploma from UC Davis, Olin launched Metzer Farms in 1972.
Today it’s the premier waterfowl hatchery in the country, managing nearly 20 breeds of ducks (along with geese, some chickens and game fowl), selling and shipping live hatchlings to both hobbyists and meat purveyors all over the country. Each day USPS trucks haul away tens of thousands of barely waddling, fuzzy young ducklings inside carefully packaged containers.
Through a generational influence from Marc, the farm now utilizes technology in incubators and software to manage the orders. And now — following five years spent moving up the corporate ladder at Taylor Farms in Salinas — Marc Metzer has sensed a growing duck egg market.
He vividly recalls fond childhood memories eating Grandma Metzer’s deviled duck eggs, and still makes his dad’s famous duck yolk French toast on weekends.
The plan was for John to slowly retire and have his son gradually take over some of his duties. “Since then, we’ve bought a second ranch, doubled our hatching capacity, and created Olinday Farms,” Marc said. “Things aren’t going as initially planned but we are all very happy about it.”
Metzer has made it his mission — with the help of local chefs — to turn us all into duck-egg lovers. He has begun dropping off samples of Olinday duck eggs to local restaurants in Carmel, Carmel Valley and Monterey, and several have already added the eggs to their menus.
The Big Sur Bakery features Olinday duck eggs in its pappardelle pasta with grilled tuna, chef Chris Vacca at California Market at Pacific’s Edge added a scotch duck egg to his tasting menu, chef Ron Mendoza of Revival in Monterey has added a olive oil duck egg ice cream, and chef E.J. Jimenez of Rancho Cielo’s Drummond Academy served 1,000 servings of huevos rancheros (with poached duck eggs) at the Salinas Valley Food and Wine (look for duck eggs on Rancho Cielo’s fall menu).
Jimenez calls Olinday duck eggs “real food, so natural and beautiful,” he said. “I love that they are not all the same exact color or shape.”
He appreciates that duck eggs have a richer quality than chicken eggs, with a higher ratio of yolk to albumen (the white part).
“Duck eggs achieve fuller, richer flavor with a creamy taste,” Metzer said. “They have a lower water content than chicken eggs, so they have a greater concentration of vitamins and minerals per serving and are more nutrient dense.”