Your cut of meat can make or break your mealtime. I have been guilty of purchasing a different cut of meat solely because it is on sale or a better deal, even though my recipe SPECIFICALLY states I need x cut. In some cases it’s worked out ok, in others not so much. I was recently able to interview the butchers and fishmongers from Whole Foods Market that are scheduled to participate in the FEAST Best Butcher Contest and Fishmonger Face-Off Saturday in Director’s Park in downtown Portland from 11:00am until 2:00pm.
On Saturday at this FREE event, we will watch as just under a dozen fishmongers and butchers battle it out for the winning titles. Bring your love for surf ‘n turf, knife flair, and love for healthy competition.
I recently got to get together with Whole Foods Market (Bridgeport location) to watch a demonstration from a butcher who participated in last year’s WFM Butcher Contest. Beau, a seasoned butcher, walked me through how they cleaned up a prime rib to ready it for the display.
Beau trimmed a huge slab of meat into very presentable looking prime rib in under five minutes! Beau was a participant in the Best Butcher Contest last year and made it up to the regionals. On Saturday, expect butchers and fishmongers from 11 different regions including Canada. The only region not participating will be Great Britain. We spoke about the challenges of participating in the Butchers Contest–how nerve-wracking it is to have a slew of people starting at you while you saw away at a large cut of beef with some really sharp knives! “That’s a lot of pressure!” Beau explained to me, “I wasn’t prepared for the crowds we were put in front of to perform. Now just imagine how many people will be looking in on contestants on Saturday!”
After our instructional cutting, I spoke more with one of the regional meat specialists about all that Whole Foods has to offer to its customers. Let me tell you, it’s a pretty serious spread.
And now they grill! The Bridgeport location (south of Portland in Tigard) has a ready-made BBQ section, complete with bar (that has 4-5 beers on tap) and a TV–on which, I can only assume, sports are played. I hate to think how many relationships this little “sports bar” may put at risk, as I know where Ktams would beeline to if we were to shop at the Bridgeport location. I may never see him again! It’s just all too genius.
I want to thank Whole Foods for letting me sneak behind the butcher’s counter and talk with some very knowledgeable people! Here are a few take-aways that I think would be of use to anyone!
- Interested in a chicken but don’t want to cook a whole one? Ask the butcher if he could but it into halves or quarters–that way you only get as much as you need!
- I always have an issue with a place running out of flank steak! Whole Foods noted it has a lot to do with the fact that they only ever have an even ratio of cow parts. How many flanks do cows have, kids? Two! If you ever find that they are out of flank or another cut of meat you are looking for, simply ask the butcher what he would suggest instead. In most cases they will be happy to oblige with a similar cut.
- Looking for something new to cook? Did you know that Whole Foods creates its own recipes for its ready-to-grill food? Maybe ask the butcher! I’ve learned that a lot of the time they are extremely knowledgeable–whether you are asking for a suggested cut, or asking for a specific one, like for a curry, or for a stew.