Fever reporter KALISHA NAICKER spoke to Antoine Patrick, butchery manager for the Main Group of Spars.
KN: Why did you become a butcher?
AP:I worked as a casual in Spar and wanted some skill in the retail industry. I then did my Meat Technician 2 and Meat Technician 1 courses through the then Meat Board from 1996 to 1998. It was very exciting to learn the cuts of meat and cooking methods and the rest that came with the courses – costing, block tests, management, HR and so on.
KN: What do you enjoy most about being a butchery manager?
AP: I loved the fact I can identify all cuts of meat, where they came from, know the correct cooking methods and times to cook certain cuts.
KN: How would you define great customer service?
AP: Great customer service is giving customers more than they expect, going the extra mile and trying your best to exceed a customer’s expectations.
KN: What's the difference between meat markets, then and now?
AP: Meat has become an expensive commodity and we always strive to provide the best quality at the best possible price. Meat was always well priced and customers bought it daily. Now it has become a luxury and customers buy less often and normally just what they need.
KN: Describe yourself in one word?
KN: Can you suggest grilling tips?
AP: If it is rump always ensure the rumps or steaks is properly matured - this can be the difference between a steak that will melt in your mouth or steak that will be tough. Choose a steak or chop with fat as this is generally more tender. The leaner the more tough it is.
KN: Do you consider your craft an art form?
AP: Yes definitely, you have to know the cooking methods of different types of meat cuts and their grades otherwise you will end up cooking a lamb neck on a braai and expect it to be tender.
I have seen it many times of incorrect cooking methods used for certain cuts of meat. It’s a matter of educating customers as well on how best to cook that cut of meat.
KN: Would you recommend this trade?
AP: Yes I would. Study meat as a whole. Not just the cutting methods, also the cooking methods of different grades and cuts of meat.
KN: Tell us something about meat we might not already know?
AP: I know people want the leanest meat to stay healthy and not eat fat and that’s fully understandable, but for grilling steaks and chops choose a slightly fattier chop or steak and then trim the fat off before eating.
Your meat comes in different grades - A- Grade - purple marker) AB Grade - green marker, B grade, brown marker and C grade, red marker. What a lot of people might not know is that there is a difference in the cost of certain grades. A0 & A1 lamb is tough for grilling and is best to be used for stews or curry. The fattier A4 lamb are also slightly cheaper but have got excessive fat. A2 lamb, what we sell, is ideal for grilling and is tender for curries and stews.
KN: Why should we shop at your butchery?
AP: We provide the honesty and trust that goes with our meat - freshness, best quality and range.
We provide our customers with peace of mind and guarantee our meat. If you are not satisfied we will gladly replace it or refund you.