专访 | 新西兰屠户 Blair Cooper
Kiwi Butcher Inteview | Blair Cooper

Kiwi Butcher Blair Cooper has been working as a butcher for nearly 20 years. He has dealt with almost every New Zealand meat product.

来自新西兰的Blair Cooper 高中毕业没多久就去了一家新西兰百年历史肉铺当学徒,至今已在肉铺工作了将近20年。几乎所有的新西兰肉产品Blair都打交道过。
He previously worked at Yasmine's Steakhouse, Nicolson's Butchery, IGF in Shanghai. In 2019, Blair did a great meat-breaking demonstration for Chefco and Silver Fern Farm. Now Blair lives in New Zealand and works at Neat Meat, a world-famous butcher shop.

他曾在上海的Yasmine's Steakhouse,Nicolson's Butchery,IGF,工作。2019年时,Blair还为ChefCo和银蕨农场做过一场精彩的肉类分解展示活动。现在的Blair暂居新西兰,在一家世界著名的肉铺—Neat Meat工作。

Butcher is a familiar and strange occupation in China. Most Chinese have the experience of buying meat from a butchery, but lots of people probably don’t really know what butchers do, what their life is like and whether they are all meat experts.
The differences between foreign butchers and Chinese butchers is probably the one people curious most.
Today let’s have a interview with Blair Cooper, know about the world of the butcher.

在中国,屠户是一种既熟悉又陌生的职业。虽然大部分中国人都有过到肉铺买肉的经验,但屠户的日常工作与生活到底是怎么样的,屠户是不是都是肉类专家,以及国外屠户与中国屠户有什么区别,都是很多人并不熟知的问题。今天ChefCo就跟Blair Cooper聊一聊,带大家了解下屠户的世界。
Where do you work now and what is it like?

I currently work at Neat Meat in Frankton. We’ re a wholesale and retail butcher shop, so we are serve a lot of the hotels, restaurants in Queenstown as well as the retail market.The shop is more like a normal butchery but we have a proper processing room where we can do big volumes.

当然。我现在在新西兰Frankton工作,我工作的这家店叫Neat Meat。我们做肉类批发,专供皇后镇的酒店,餐厅和零售市场。这家店看起来就像普通的肉铺,不过我们有一个不错的加工间,在那里我们会处理一些大件的肉类。

So you pack and ship as well as doing local retails?

Yeah have you heard of Hello Fresh? In the U. K. I think a few other countries overseas have a similar service, so in New Zealand we have one that's called My Food Bag. At the shop we do the production for the South Island,so that can be anywhere from 3 to 5 times per week. We do individual portions from 150g, 300g, 500g, 900g... they all go to Christchurch. They pack it all with the vegetables, sources ingredients, everything... They pack into a box and then the boxes go out to the customer. We do the meat and we send that to Christchurch. And Christchuch has the major distribution center, so they put everything together and send out there from there...So we just do the meat side of it.

是的,你听说过Hello Fresh吗?我们店也有跟他们类似的服务。每周有3到5次,我们会为南岛加工肉类,做肉类切配打包,肉配好后会被送往基督城的配送中心,那里有人会为我们的肉搭配上蔬菜,再放入食品盒中送到顾客手中。

So what is it like working at Neat Meats?
在neat meat工作感觉怎么样?

It's not too bad we're pretty small team, only 10 of us , so we have to all get along, and work hard.

不错,我们的团队非常小,总共才10个人,所以我们相处非常融洽,大家工作也很努力。 What's your typical work routine and what do you need to do at work?

So basically when I go in in the morning I take all the wholesale orders off the computer. We do that first, that’s all your restaurants and hotels orders that all gets packed and the delivery driver go out on the road early. We then set the shop up for the retail customers. And then we get our production and prep for for My food Bag.

早上到店的时候,我会从电脑上将所有的订单下载下来,然后安排打包配送。之后我们会为店铺开门做准备,接下来就开始加工肉类,准备这周的食品配送包。 What do you think of the butchery career? How do you feel about it?

In New Zealand it hasn't really changed too much, which was one of the reasons why initially I went overseas, cause it’s very hard once you and the meat business to get a decent high level job, because the people are there tend to stay there for a long time, those the people that are under those then move up into those positions when they retire. So it's really hard to get a decent wage, no matter what your experience is if you haven’t worked somewhat for a long time.


I know you have been in China before, how‘s that different?

China is so diverse as far as the population of foreigners.  That's where I learned a whole lot more ,like that I wouldn't have been able to learn in New Zealand, see working with butchers from England, from Germany , from Denmark, all over the place! In that time also had to learn how to make the cold cuts the small goods all the different specialties which is something you would never learn here ,one of the most fun part of the job. 


How could the same meats taste different due to different butchering techniques?

So generally the majority of pork and NZ goes into gas flush. We fill the bags with nitrogen. So it keeps it fresh for a lot longer and it maintains the color. So when you take it out none of the moisture comes out either. So with traditional Chinese butchery they get hung. So when they hung it in the open, they do actually bleed out and they achieve something like dry aging at a point so the longer that you let it break down naturally and open ,the more the flavor will develop, the more moist will come out and it will be different where is and that the gas blast where you’ve been vacuum bags it suppresses that. It extends your shelf life to keep it in the best condition. 在新西兰我们的肉制品大部分不是用真空包装,而是用充氮包装。这样包装的食品能保鲜更久,水分和食物原有的颜色也能被保留住。中国肉铺师傅一般会把肉挂起来。这样肉在一个敞开的环境,肉的水分被析出,时间越长,肉的风味会变得更浓厚,实际上这有点像是干式熟成。

The same thing is done with beef as well so it's just within those processes that there that's where you get the most change. So dry aging itself is at specific temperatures and humidity whereas if you're just hanging something like. We would normally in New Zealand break and put pieces of meat on hooks in the fridge. So that would do the same as like a Chinese butcher hanging something out but if you dry aging it's under a very specific conditions so there’s no bacteria growth and then you can you can hang it on the air for a lot longer.

Could you explain what exactly happens to it cuts of meat when it's being dry aged? 你能跟我们讲讲在干式熟成中的肉会发生哪些变化吗?

 Yeah so. The temperature and humidity range basically slows it almost stops any bacterial growth. So you only want to be at 0 degrees.  The temperature, just before freezing and below where bacteria grows and your humidity ranges which is normally between like 75 to 80 percent. That's what you need to keep constant,and the air flow plays effective and how fast or how slowly your meat will dry age.

A bit on the grainfed and grassfed argument, from a butcher’s perspective, what's the main difference you see?

The main difference is the flavor. The grassfed has just a much more natural nicer flavor to it. But some of the beef I’m talking about is all grass fed but just grain finished. It's just those last 2 months or 4 months that they're inside just eating grain. 

What was your dream job as a kid did you want to be a butcher?

Even when I leaving high school I didn't know what I wanted to do. I took a job at a place close to where I lived and I was just making it a picture frame moldings. Just sanding and spray painting picture moldings, very boring. And then I went to work laboring at a butcher shop in Wellington. I worked for them for 6 months under the production manager and he offered me my apprenticeship. I haven't looked back since and it was almost 20 years ago.
我高中毕业的时候不知道自己想干什么,当时我就在家附近随便找了份喷绘图片的工作,非常枯燥。过了没多久我就去了惠灵顿的一家肉铺工作,做了6个月后,当时的生产经理收我做学徒。从那以后我就一直在肉铺工作了,一直到现在, 快20年过去了。

Do you think butcher’s work interesting?

I think most butchers enjoy their jobs, it's pretty good hours. You know we get to finish kind of early and our days are always different so it's not monotonous everyday. It's fun to play with knives and tear something part拆分with all the things you learn... the different products and stuff to be created you can add whatever flavors you like when you can, it's pretty fun.
我觉得大多数肉铺师傅都很喜欢这份工作。我们的工作时间很好,如果工作能提前完成我们就能提前结束。我们每天的工作也都会有些不一样,不是那种每天都单调重复的工作。使用不同的刀具拆分不同的肉类, 使用不同的风味腌制肉类都是很有意思的工作。

Since you’re doing retail, how do you enjoy interacting with your customers? Do they look to you for advice?

More and more these days people are leaning towards barbecue like American style barbecue, and smoking and stuff. It's really big here, so with like a massive shelf full of brisket and pork ribs and things like that. It just pulls for smoking enthusiasts and it's really good. We have rubs there for them and told them give them advice that I have my own smoking here... yeah we definitely have that interaction. And it’s always best to give the customer what they want not what they don't want.

What's the best selling cuts in your shop at the moment

Scotch fillet is one of our best sellers.
Scotch fillet是卖的最好的

So we establish that the bestselling cut, so what’s the hardest cut to sell?

New Zealand people don't eat much offal. The older generation still tend to enjoy it, but the young don't really get into it too much. We still have lambs kidneys and lamb hearts in the shop. We have a bit of tripe and beef tongues. We sell heaps of bones as well but mainly for dogs.

Offal pieces as they are very popular with the Chinese community in NZ, the price actually rose. Which I think you're going into New Zealand have you experienced that. 


Yeah for sure. But. Many years ago you could never sell lamb shanks and beef cheeks are also really popular these days. It's just that thing and that's what's been great about the relationship with butchers and chefs yeah so chefs have been taking these lesser cuts or things that aren't really used so much and making them popular, making them beautiful, and making them accessible to people on a low budget. So that relationship I'm sure we'll always continue, but that's the sort of thing that is also very necessary. So that you can use everything and minimize your waste. 

What's your advice on dealing with offal?

Really liver is probably the most common liver or kidney. One common mistake with liver is not taking the skin off the outside and membrane on the entire liver. If you don't take it off when you cook it it becomes very tough and it just shrinks up. So once you move the entire membrane and then slices it finely when you fry it's very soft, very tender, lovely flavor.

Do you cook? From what I heard, I think you cook, and what kind of stuff do you like to cook. 

I cook quite a lot and a lot of different stuff. Yeah I have a Chinese cookbook for like traditional Chinese food. I like making pasta, I make my own pizza dough and pizzas. I make curries. I like to try a bit of everything, if I see something on TV I wanna give it a go.

What do you like to use with your handy knife and what do you recommend.

I just have two. One is a 6 inch boning knife yeah and then one is a 10 inch steak knife. That's it. If it’s beef then you need a bone saw as well so just like a hand saw, but with those three tools you can pretty much take apart any animals you think of. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

I have a mountain bike and a road bike. I play football twice a week. I like to cook. I like to barbecue. I watch football on TV. Do some hiking in the mountains here because there's plenty of mountains and stuff.

What's your philosophy towards work?

Keep going forward, never stop learning.When I finished my apprenticeship the group of butchers that I work with was generally 40 years plus up to 65. So when I finished my apprenticeship they said. A lot of them told me yeah now you've done the theory but now you start to learn. And ever since then every job that I've worked in every manageable position I've taken on what I’ve learned, and you always do and you can't stop learning or else you will stop progressing.


Email: lesley@tribalbrandsasia.com
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