Everyone, this is Brian – one of our butchers from our Willow Park Village location. Brian has been with us for quite some time, so we thought we should introduce him to all of you!
What made you want to become a butcher?
I’m a third-generation butcher from Manitoba. I started getting into butchery when I was only 5 years old by helping out my Dad with our family butcher shop once we moved to Bowden, Alberta. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy it as a kid since there were plenty of other fun things to be doing and I was more or less forced into it as a chore! But, as a career, I saw a need for it in the community and the opportunity of steady employment because, well, people like to eat!
What do you enjoy about being a butcher?
Creating. To be a meat cutter is a “lost art” of sorts – you’re creating an art form for somebody’s plate. As a butcher, you should take pride in the presentation of the meat that you are offering to someone, and really enjoy being able to make something beautiful for your customers to take home. When it comes to the big grocery stores and meat operations, everything is so rushed. They’ve lost the art form, the presentation, the appreciation of the meat itself because it’s so mass produced. No one has the time anymore to slow down and prepare something that will not only look delicious, but taste delicious too.
It’s definitely a sign of the times – when I was growing up, it was all about taking the time to prepare something beautiful to share with your family, all together. Being a butcher has kept this tradition alive in my family. Sunday mornings are huge for us – I fry up some of our Nitrate-Free Bacon and Maple Hill Organic Eggs, and we all sit down and enjoy a great meal together just like old times.
Why do you think supporting local butchers is important?
Simply because of the rushed mentality in the big box stores – in these operations, they don’t cater to customer service, and that is something that I believe local and small butcher shops have to their advantage. We really want to engage with our customers and find our what their needs are, so that we can best help them.
Can you tell the difference between big-box store meat and local/naturally raised meat?
Oh, big time! Mass-produced meat is aged for a maximum of 14 days, whereas beef from Urban Butcher is aged for a minimum of 30 days. Giving meat the time to age is such an important step – it allows the enzymes in the meat to break down more and more, and this contributes to and enhances the flavor so much. Our meat is much more well-marbled and flavourful than what you would find in a big grocery store. You can even tell the difference in ground beef – even just the aroma of the meat is different.
What is your favourite meat to cook with and why?
I am definitely a steak guy! There’s nothing better than a beautiful ribeye. The flavor, the marbling, and the juiciness is unparalleled. I also love a prime rib roast. I do mine with salt and pepper, garlic, and very high heat – around 500 degrees. I pop it in the oven for about 35 minutes, then turn the heat off after that while leaving the roast in or 2.5 hours longer. It comes out a perfect rare to medium-rare and is just amazing!