Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Greatest Butcher in New York

If It Came From Pat LaFrieda... You Are Eating The Best

Pat LaFrieda is kinda a hero of mine.

Sure, some guys worship Mickey Mantle. Some guys worship Neil Armstrong. My guy grinds hamburger.

This is likely why I was so excited to step inside of Pat’s Magic Kingdom last night at the invitation of a friend who was on business.

At first meeting, Pat is exactly what I imagined him to be. Personable, genuine, authentic…. and passionate about his work. He is a third generation butcher who understands hard, hard work…. and is now reaping the benefits of those efforts as provider of Manhattan’s finest meat.

Let me repeat. This guy is the best meat purveyor in the greatest restaurant city in the world.

But make no mistake about it… the hard work for Pat is not over. It’s just beginning.

Walking through his brand-spanking new meat processing facility was an out-of-body experience for me, being a former restaurant owner and chef, as well as a general meat enthusiast. From his cold storage room (the size of a basketball gym) to his grinding room (that sounds dirty)… to his dry-aged steak room… Pat LaFrieda was beaming at the glorious cuts of meat that are the core of his empire. The strong smell of beef was a different kind of smell I had been use to visiting butcher shops in the past. This smell was rich and fresh. This was quality stuff.

Pat LaFrieda is quality… and will never compromise.

I won’t give you a step by step account of my evening, but I can tell you the highlight was watching his room of skillful butchers carve and craft every cut of beef imaginable, for the greatest restaurants in the city.

“These veal chops are headed to Babbo”, Pat remarked as he lifted the box already tagged Babbo. “These steaks, Quality Meats. These… to the New York Yankees”.

That’s when I began to tear up. Holy crap, this guy is sending steaks to Yankee Stadium.

The evening ended soon after as Pat needed to get back to work to begin to fill the 500+ orders that would soon depart the facility in trucks… to the likes of Marea, Minetta Tavern and Shake Shack. But not before I could make one joking remark that I still can’t believe came out of my mouth.

“No parting gifts, huh? Like a Black Label burger?”, I joked.

“You need some beef? I got you covered!”, he responded.

Within 60 seconds, from the back cooler, emerged a case of signature Pat LaFrieda burgers… headed for my arms

Very rarely am I caught speechless, but a case of LaFrieda meat has this effect on me.

I soon vanished into the night, burgers in tow… and thought to myself how lucky I was to see the master at work… doing his thing.

This wasn’t a visit to just any meat house… cutting simple cuts of beef.

It was Pat LaFrieda…. the greatest butcher in New York.