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Do you trust your butcher

This article was written by a friend of mine. He posted it on LinkedIn


I am reminded recently how connected "Food Preparers" are to their customers' meal experience. I have been helping in a busy butchershop on weekends, and I am witnessing the care, and detail with preparing Christmas orders (turkeys, roasts, meals, stuffing etc.) As I stand back and reflect - there is an enormous responsibility on the butcher to provide a "wow" experience for the Christmas meal. This goes far beyond the basics of food safety, and should include cooking tips for the special occasion.

Early in my career as a trained butcher, I have experienced the gamut of customer services episodes. I had a shop in downtown Toronto, and one Christmas time - most of our 400 fresh turkeys were over 20 lbs. Our customers ordered by size range, 11 to 13 lbs, 15 to 17 lbs, 19 to 22 lbs. There was always a little leeway in putting up customer orders. Most orders were usually around 15 to 17 lbs. We had to be very charming when a customer ordered a 14 lb fresh turkey, and we only had 20 lbs and up left. Remember this is happening between Dec 23rd and Dec 24th - and there is no back up supply - and the customer probably does not have an alternate local choice. As a rule of thumb, we would tell the customer it's just a little bigger, and give them the general cooking guidelines, and then tell them the price (they were pre-weighed the day before.) Customers eyes went wide open like there was a SMALL OSTRICH in the bag!! Most times and most customers were okay with it. Not always - one particular English lady from Rosedale phoned me on Dec 27th, and scolded me for 10 minutes that "you ruined my Christmas dinner" because the turkey was about 5 or 6 pounds too big. She repeated that about 4 times and I felt horrible. I offered her a full refund, but the damage was done. I think I gave her some really good steaks another time, and we eventually reconciled.

Another time, I had a customer come in and place an order for a large capon with corn bread stuffing. Easy enough order...we always have fresh capons available. We had a couple of days to prepare the order for Saturday morning 10 am pick up. Early Saturday morning I went to prepare the order, and walked over to the neighbouring bakery to purchase some corn bread. I ended up going to about 4 bakeries around downtown and I had no idea that corn bread was impossible to find. Time was running out, as the shop was busy and the customer would be coming in very soon. I was panicking as I had to get some corn bread to make the stuffing. I went into a nearing green grocer, and looking for anything that had corn in it - I found it - Doritos Corn Chips!! I got a large bag - took it to the shop and mixed the corn chips with our basic bread stuffing. Not totally sure on how this would turn out, but we hoped for the best. We got the order ready, and not 5 minutes later the customer came in to pick up his stuffed capon. On the following Monday, we were working in the shop and the same customer popped in the front door, and yelled loudly "Mr. de Groot, that was the best damned corn stuffing ever. The capon was a hit for my dinner party."

My point is that as food preparer's we occupy a position of trust in the customer's meal experience. We have to earn that trust one turkey at a time.

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