From the Butcher’s Block is a series of interviews bought to you by Lesnie’s. Get to know your local butcher better and hear from these craftsmen who work so hard to put the food on our plate.
To kick off the series, we hear from Frank Galipo from Far North Queensland’s Galipo’s Midtown Meats.
Find out some tricks of the trade from a butcher who has served this trade for over 40 years. Now that’s impressive!
Why did you become a butcher?
My father was a butcher. It’s in the blood. I’ve been in the trade 40 years and still love it. It’s a great career and I encourage any young person who’s interested to give it a go.
What has changed most about the butcher trade since you joined it?
It used to be all about meat, cutting to get best value and using all the cuts of the animal. These days you also need to know all about how to cook meat, how to use things like vacuum bags. And as a businessman, how to value add to products to make them better for your customer and your business.
How did the craft of butchery and your skills improve with time?
You never stop learning. I have become more creative over time. I try out new things, new flavours and ingredients to keep my customers interested in what I’m stocking and coming back.
And as for skills – it is really important that you can talk to your customers. They have lots of questions, ask all sorts of things about the meat and how to cook with it. In fact, the most common question I get asked is how to use a piece of meat in cooking – the best way, different ways.
They also want to know more about the meat – where it comes from, is it grain fed. No-one used to both about that stuff but they do now. And you have to have the answers.
What skill is being lost with modern butchery?
Breaking down a body of beef. Most beef now comes in cartons, so this skill is becoming ‘old school’ but the traditional butchers still like to do this themselves.
Also, making sausages from scratch. Used to be all butchers made their own but not anymore. I still do.
Most Butchers now buy their meat from a wholesaler, before we would buy from the grazier and inspect and select the cattle. That link between the butcher and grazier is disappearing.
Do you think the new ‘artisan’ butcher is bringing back the trade?
Any good butcher business is being improved by using value add products, like different mixes and marinades. These increase the range of products you have and can sell.
Also, for someone like myself, going back to the ‘old’ cuts of meats we used to eat a lot when I was younger – all that stuff is coming back again. Good cuts that a lot of the public hase ignored for a while.
Which cut of meat or part of an animal is the most under-valued?
Rib on a whole bone and oyster blade. Great pieces that fell out of trend for a while. The trick is to not overcook them. Well that’s the trick for all meat really. ‘Well done’ is not the way to cook anything!
What is it about being a butcher that most customers would not be aware of?
We have to be up on the MSA ratings – which is the grade of the meat.
MSA is Meat Standards Australia, and it grades the eating quality for individual beef muscles. We butchers have to know this, so our customers don’t – as butchers we have to have this specialist beef knowledge to make sure we’re buying the best for our customers.
How have you seen Lesnie’s products change since you started?
The biggest change is the gluten free product range. Which is good as lots of customers are asking for this. Apart from that the quality of Lesnie’s remains good and consistent – and the fact that Bunzl has HACCP certification is reassuring to a small business.
What about you – what do you eat and cook for yourself?
I love a good curry dish – any curry. Also, brisket cooked slowly – it’s a family favourite.
And give me a nicely cooked steak or piece of pork with a bit of Lesnie’s garlic steak seasoning on it – it is so good.
Thanks for your time today Frank, and sharing a little of your story. If anyone’s in Ingham, drop in and say hi to Frank and the team at Galipo’s Midtown Meats.