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Aussie Meat Trends

The fallacy of food miles

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We hear a lot about local and sustainable, so much so that you might think they’re one and the same. Turns out that’s not always the case, especially when you dig in and really do the math.

 Food miles

Breaking it down with Master Butcher Doug Piper

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As more chefs these days are starting to dabble in butchery, the rest of us are just appreciating how much credit is due the practitioners of this ancient art. The Romans were the first to have organized butchery as a formal trade, and our own Doug Piper is proud to carry on the tradition.

Doug Collage4

How did you get into the butchering business? What do you like about it?

The smell of fresh saw dust on the floor and fresh meat has stayed with me for years. I have fond memories of spending holidays with my grandparents in South Australia. Whenever I stayed with them we would always take a trip to the same butchers every time and the butcher would give us a thick slice of cooked sausage called “Fritz” to eat while my grandmother was doing the shopping. Seeing the smartly dressed butcher in his white shirt and black tie made me want to be just like them, always smiling and friendly to everyone. 

I love the interaction with customers, you nearly become part of their family; you watch their families grow up and you know what they like. I get great satisfaction from being able to provide excellent food for families knowing they will enjoy it.

You’ve done a number of butchering demonstrations for chefs all over the country, and they are always a big draw. Why do you think chefs are so interested in butchery these days, and what are they looking for? 

I think it’s all about wanting to get to the source of where their ingredients are coming from. Chefs today are very interested in how their proteins were raised and what makes one cut of meat perform differently than another. They’re also looking for underutilized cuts, to offer something different and for better food cost.

What are some lamb cuts you like to show chefs?

The lamb rump (as we call it in Australia) or top sirloin is an excellent cut for a single serve roast or cooked medium rare and sliced thinly over a salad. Racks, legs, shanks and ground lamb are all great cuts. If chefs want to go for the wow factor and offer their customers a premium item with no waste, then you can’t go past the boneless lamb loin. It’s the caviar of the lamb cuts and comes fully denuded - no trimming needed.”

For a recipe using the lamb loin, check out Adam Heath of the Forest Club in Houston’s winning dish from the Chef’s Roll 6 competition, his Char Sous-Vide Lamb Loin with Couscous, Roasted Mushrooms, Turnips and Tomatoes.