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The New Old-School Butcher Shops


Meat-lovers in Fairfield and Westchester counties are seeking out the new breed of old-school butcher shops for procuring their steaks and chops, instead of just grabbing something from the grocery store display case. Four of the five below have opened in the region in the last year alone.

Speaking to a butcher allows home cooks to learn where their meat comes from and about new cuts and how to prepare it, with the butcher filling the role of culinary coach. “We pride ourselves on understanding every cut of meat on the animal, including bones and offal, not just the popular cuts most people choose from the meat aisle at the grocery store,” says Jeff Cutshall, co-owner of Custom Meats in Fairfield, CT. This relationship helps customers and their families eat better, while make shopping less of a chore. As butcher Samantha Garwin of Fleishers in Greenwich and Westport, CT, shares: “We care deeply about getting to know our customers on a personal level—their names, families, preferences and passions—so that the simple act of buying groceries becomes an experience of community.” Here, five men and women who are bringing their devotion to high-quality meat to this area:

Custom Meats
Lamb chops from Custom Meats

Custom Meats
Jeff Cutshall
Fairfield, CT

Custom Meats opened in May, and offers organic, non-GMO beef and pork, from homemade sausages to dry-aged steaks to jerky. “We are a traditional whole-animal butchery. We partner with small local farms in Connecticut and across the border in New York, we bring the entire animal into our shop, and we break all the cuts down in house,” explains Cutshall. “This is not only a more sustainable practice for our farmers but also provides us with full control of the meat from the slaughterhouse until it reaches our consumer’s plates.” Customers leave with a quality product and tips from head butcher Tim Frosina and other staffers on how best to cook their purchase—including those that appeal to home chefs looking to try something new.

Favorite cut of meat: “Pork shoulder is a personal favorite. The entire process is enjoyable—curing, smoking, pulling and especially eating it. And when it comes to pork, our pastured, acorn-fed pork produces a rich flavor that can’t be beat.”

Sam Garwin of Fleishers Craft Butchery holds a beef round.

Fleishers Craft Butchery
Samantha Garwin

Greenwich and Westport, CT, and NYC

In 2009, Sam Garwin read Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Eating Animals, which looks at what it means to eat meat in an industrialized world. “That kicked off a personal crisis of meat-eating, and I decided I didn’t want to be complicit in a system that prioritized low-cost and mass-production over quality, flavor, health and safety. After a brief stint as a vegetarian, I decided that I would eat meat only if I knew where it came from, and that the methods used to raise it were ethical,” says Garwin. Shortly after, she started apprenticing as a butcher, and found herself at Fleishers, which opened in 2004. “Once, a customer told me that a dry-aged steak she bought her 80-year-old father made him cry, because the last time he’d had a steak that good was in his 20s, and he had figured he would never have that experience again.”

Favorite cut of meat: “I love the flat iron steak. It’s the second most tender muscle on the whole animal (after the tenderloin) but it’s more flavorful and half as expensive. It’s a thin steak—about one half to three fourths of an inch at its thickest point—which makes it perfect for quick weeknight meals. I cook mine with a coating of coarse kosher salt in a hot cast-iron pan or outside on the grill, about four minutes per side.”

Butcher Don Myers at Siegel Bros Marketplace lifts a slab of beef.

Siegel Bros Marketplace
Dave Nevins

Mount Kisco, NY

This family-owned gourmet grocery store, which opened in January, offers a little of everything, from French and Spanish cheeses to Italian prosciutto, as well as freshly prepared foods that cater to every diet, from gluten-free to vegans. A highlight for customers, however, is the butcher shop, where quality isn’t just a buzzword. “Our meats are locally-raised and treated humanely and have healthy diets. We can attest for everything we sell from where it was raised to how it got here. We do the butchery on premise in front of customer eyes. There is no trickery. Meats are not sitting out in grab-and-go cases for who knows how long,” says chef and co-owner Dave Nevins. To him, being a butcher is similar to being an artist. “I enjoy the accomplishment of working with my hands to take a large side of meat and turn it into something beautiful in the cases.  It’s an art form!”

Favorite cut of meat: “Sirloin steak because of the fat content and richness.”

Darien Butcher Shop
Darien Butcher Shop’s Peter Crawford cuts a dry-aged Tomahawk steak.

Darien Butcher Shop
Peter Crawford
Darien, CT

Darien native and Old Greenwich resident Peter Crawford traveled to Burlington, VT, to The New England Culinary institute for his training, and around the world as a chef, including stints at the kitchens of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud and Terrance Brennen. In 2016, he brought that impressive background back to Darien with the opening of Darien Butcher Shop, which is already making a name for itself with its ethically raised and antibiotic and hormone free meats, as well as its exotic and authentic sausages (made in-house, of course). “I was drawn to butchery after working at Bouley and working with whole animals. We would serve lamb three ways, pulling the best parts to sear and we would slow cook the other parts, until they were tender. The bones would turn into sauces.  I would roast a whole suckling pig everyday and think to myself, wow Darien could really use some of this.”

Favorite cut of meat: “My favorite cut of meat is hands down the rib eye, from the ‘chuck end.’  The rib eye satisfies my primal need for meat, I love the muscle variation, the tenderness, the juiciness and of course the flavor.  It helps that it is large, too.”

Beef rump for kebabs from M.EAT Organic Beef & Provisions

M.EAT Organic Beef & Provisions
Rodrigo Echeverrigaray
Westport, CT

Westport families were the inspiration behind M.EAT, says owner Rodrigo Echeverrigaray: “Many parents are looking for better health and the desire to avoid pesticides and fertilizers.” To that end, Echevverrigaray’s shop, which opened this summer, focuses on organic meat. “We are bringing an excellent price/quality/value equation, as an answer to consumer needs.” When cooking for friends and family, Echevverrigaray keeps it simple. “I love to gather family and friends with a great barbecue. As a starter, I always prepare some sausages and sweetbreads. Then, as a main course, I cook a whole rib eye that is prepared for about an hour to reach the ideal point: pink in the center.”

Favorite cut of meat: “Definitely, the rib eye! It comes from muscles that don’t get much exercise, so it’s a premium cut with great tenderness and with the best taste that the forequarters have, with the perfect percentage of fat; that, well-cooked, will deliver the best juices and flavors.”

Photos by (M.EAT) Francisco Supervielle; (Custom Meats) Christina Saburro; (Fleishers) Brent Herrig; Darien Butcher Shop (Bruce Plotkin)

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