Meet Zak Grammer - the Butchery Manager at Neat Meat Ponsonby Central in Auckland...
Q: What made you decide to pursue a career as a butcher?
A: “My dad used to own a butcher shop in Palmerston North, so it’s sort of become a family thing. I started working for my dad when I was about 13, doing Christmases and then it sort of progressed from there.”
Q: Where has your career taken you?
A: “I’ve been here (Neat Meat) 12 months now. I spent four years in London, working for a little family butchery and Jamie Oliver at Barbecoa butchery. Before that it was The Mad Butcher. Each place I have gone to has sort of been a step up.”
Q: How is Neat Meat different from your ‘average’ butcher?
A: “The retail and the wholesale, it’s quite unique. The retail shop here is probably something a bit different to what your average Kiwi butcher would be, display wise, and the products and cuts we have. I took over the shop about April last year and wanted to bring a bit of a European/U.K influence to how we do things. Even just the layout of the serve-over, you’ll notice there’s no black trays or anything like that. It’s all wooden boards and tiles just to give it a bit of a wow appeal.”
Q: Why would you recommend going to a butcher to the home cook?
A: “You get that one on one experience. No question is a silly question. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or if you’re quite well advanced in the kitchen. We can help you either way, cooking, what cuts to use or what’s used best for the type of methods you’re using. All of us here have a bit of character as well so it just makes that experience of shopping a whole lot better.”
Q: Do you find that cooking shows such as Masterchef New Zealand influence people’s choices in meat and cuts?
A: “Yeah definitely, and magazines like Dish. Some people enjoy looking at the recipe of the day, or week and they will bring it in and show you. People bring in cookbooks as well, that’s quite cool.”
Q: What is the most popular cut of meat at the moment?
A: “This time of year, barbecue season, butterfly legs of lamb, steaks. Steaks will go all year round. Sausages are flying out the door; we are doing probably about 200 kilos a week at the moment. Anything that you can put on a barbeque, they’ll just take.”
Q: What is the strangest request Neat Meat has received?
A: “You have a few people ask for ostrich or alligator, or even quite exotic meats.”
Q: Where do you see Neat Meat as sitting in the market?
A: “We like to see ourselves as the top of the niche market, but a range of meats for everyone as well. Not just in that top end.”
Q: Where do you go from here, what’s the next career step?
A: “Hopefully a bit of growth within Neat Meat itself. More retail, whether it be new shops or working for new ideas for the shop itself. How we can break down the carcass and utilise more of the carcass cuts. You can sell steaks all day, all year but it's really utilising the other cuts as well.”
Q: What is your favourite cut?
A: “I quite like the Wagyu 'bavette', the cut itself is actually part of the skirt so through here (gestures towards right chest and rib region). Traditionally, about ten years ago, it would have been used as a diced beef in stew, but now it’s quite a popular American barbecue steak. Quick fry it; four to five minutes a side and let it rest. It’s not a tender steak as such but it’s one that has lots of flavour and lots of texture. Something you can sink your teeth into. If you have a group of friends around, nice big chopping board, cut it all up roughly and spread it across. It’s an awesome cut at the moment.”
Neat Meat - Visit online at www.neatmeat.co.nz