Being a butcher is so much more than just cutting up all sorts of different meats. As we found out from Master Butcher Michael Cafe of Ryan’s Grocery, butchers are in-charge of many behind-the-scenes processes, including hygiene matters, food handling and giving recommendations to customers. Michael has over 30 years of experience as a butcher, and first started his career working part-time at a butcher shop at the age of 13. Our interview with him follows:
Describe a typical day as a butcher.
You might think all we do is to cut meats and pack them but there’s so much more to this job than that. Generally, my typical day starts at 7am, when we prepare our daily orders in the meat processing factory. My role there is to plan daily production orders and to ensure each order is of the highest standards before it is delivered to our customers. By lunch time, I will head to the retail store to check on the inventory and display of meats before heading back to the factory for the production of small goods and value-added products. On the non-typical days, work could be much more hectic. I would have to attend meetings, demonstrations, giving butchering sessions, product photoshoots and many more.
What do you enjoy most about your occupation?
If I had to pick one thing I enjoy the most about being a butcher, it would be the simple conversation with each customer who comes in. I get to learn about their meat needs, so I can give them my best recommendations.
What are some misconceptions people have about being a butcher?
Many people have the misconception that all we do is to cut meat. There is a lot more to this trade than that. To run a well-managed butchery, knowledge is key, with the need to know all aspects of each type of meat (beef, lamb, pork), the types of cuts, how to make the cuts and how to process and store the meat. Within the factory, butchers are the custodians of food handling, where we are key to ensuring the hygiene of the food we process. Outside the factory, butchers are chefs’ key helper as we can help recommend the cuts for their dish, and the quality of our work will directly impact the outcome of the dish.
All the organic beef, pork, lamb and chicken at Ryan’s Grocery are from Australia; except their Organic Prairie Pork, which is from the United States. The process begins with sourcing trips by Wendy Foo, who set up Ryan’s Grocery because of her son, who is intolerant to dairy, gluten, nuts, soy, eggs, and many other food items.
Wendy personally visits producers and farmers in order to understand their production and farming processes and ensure their practices are aligned with Ryan’s Grocery’s strict ethical standards. And before sending the various meats out to retail, the carcasses are processed in the factory.
Ryan’s Grocery’s latest additions of organic meats include the Bultarra Australian Saltbush Lamb and the Organic Prairie Pork, with the former’s origins being the northern pastoral South Australian country, on Saltbush and native grasses.
Bultarra Saltbush Lamb – Organic Cap off Rack
Organic Prairie – Pork Chops
For more information, go to www.ryansgrocery.com.