Look out Peterborough butchers, there’s a new kid in town.
And he is slicing up some fine, fine looking meats.
Truth be told, George Madill, butcher and owner of Primal Cuts, the new boutique meatery on Lansdowne Street, isn’t new to Peterborough. He’s just been away for awhile. Seven years to be precise.
He’s been honing his craft in Toronto, starring in stints at Cumbrae’s and Olliffe’s — two of the most celebrated meat shops in the City. His time as Head Butcher at Olliffe’s secured him a reputation as one of the best young butchers in town — not bad for a Peterborough kid.
Having gained both success and a name for himself, Madill has returned to his hometown, ready to treat Peterborough to some of the best sourced and immaculately prepared foods in the area.
Judging by the crowd gathered for his invite-only grand opening, Peterborough is more than ready to welcome him back.
“It’s quite a reintroduction,” he smiled, gazing across a makeshift sidewalk patio, specially cordoned off for the event. “It’s good to be home.”
Madill’s shop is a meat-lover’s paradise. 3-inch thick rib steaks share a display with elegantly prepared racks of lamb. Exquisitely marbled striploins line up against perfectly pink cuts of Tamshire pork. It is easily the best looking butcher display in the area. The shelves of Primal Cuts are also something to behold, with local honey stacked up besides scrumptious-looking local preserves.
It didn’t take long for me to find that the shop was as pleasing to the palate as it was to the eye. Board after board of different cuts of steak circled the soirée — I was quick to try as many cuts as possible. The beef was melt-in-the mouth spectacular.
In between bites, I managed to track Madill down. He was busy keeping an eye on the party and welcoming well-wishers, but he took the time to chat.
One of my first questions, after congratulating him on the new business, was to ask after the sourcing policies put in place. I wanted to know just how local, this “local” butcher was.
“First of all, I can tell you that, for me, the closer the farm, the better,” he replied. “I am always looking for great farms close to Peterborough. And all of my meats are from Ontario. But while I do look for farms as close as possible, I also look for farms that are producing the kind of animals that I want to work with. And I look for farms that are producing animals in a way that I can appreciate and believe in. I like to spend quite a bit of time at a farm before I decide to purchase from it. I like to spend a lot of time talking to the farmer. And I do quite a bit of research beforehand. So, yes, some is very locally produced, and some is more regional in nature.”
He pointed to some beautifully rosy chops in the display case.
“Here’s an example,” he said. “I heard about this great farm, where they were doing some unique things with [heritage variety] Hampshire pork. So I went to visit, had a look around, and spent an afternoon on the farm. I was impressed. Very impressed. The result? I’m now the exclusive seller of this gorgeous whey-fed pork.”
“Yes,” he grinned. “They get whey produced from Empire Cheese in Campbellford and feed it to the Hampshire pigs –an otherwise very lean animal. The result is an incredibly tender, absolutely delicious pork.”
And with that, I was sold.
Primal Cuts goes out of its way to source meat that has not been fed hormones or antibiotics — and that are GMO (genetically modified organism) free. The animals they source are pasture fed and treated ethically.
“We take great care in maintaining an environmentally responsible carbon footprint,” says Madill.
I next asked him what his goals were for the store.
“Really, the one goal I have is to bring great food to Peterborough and the surrounding area,” he replied. “Other than that, it’s just good to be home. Seven years feels like a long time. I miss this place like crazy.”
While Madill has plenty of friends in his hometown, he appears to be on the verge of gaining quite a few more. At least once word of his shop filters through the City and County.
Quite simply, his store is just that good. And his meats just that impressive.
I definitely know that I’ll be back.
You can find Primal Cuts at 550 Lansdowne Street West. Check out their website at http://primalcuts.ca. And follow them on Twitter at @primalcuts101