Gary’s Quality Meats Prahran Market
Meat is in Gary's blood
Natasha sat down with fourth generation butcher Gary McBean to find out more about growing up amongst a family of butchers, his own passion for quality meat and animal welfare, what cut of steak takes his fancy and just where in Melbourne makes the best steak (outside of his place)?
Gary McBean certainly knows his meat...and the Prahran Market. He’s been there since the ripe young age of nine. “My first job was to rake the saw dust in the butcher shop”, says McBean of his early foray into butchery. “Then I became the offal sales boy with my own register, starting at 4am and finishing by 12pm on a Saturday”, McBean continues to tell me of his early teen years working with his father at the market.
So the scene was set and with an apprenticeship gained at age 15 and further hands-on experience, Gary’s Quality Meats was born in 1975.
Whilst not all products are certified organic at Gary’s, McBean knows where the meat has come from. “I know all of the farmers. The farmers care about their cattle. No hormones are used, no sprays are used and the cattle are grass-fed. The animals are raised and cared for in the same way a certified organic farm would take care of their animals. I’m more interested in animal welfare and when you know the farmers and how they treat their animals and you get to see it for yourself, I know they’re not lying to me!”
And who would lie to a butcher who stands well over six feet?
His few certified organic products come from Spear Creek in South Australia, stocking Dorper Saltbush Lamb as well as Spear Creek’s Organic Saltbush Beef.
Whilst I’m respective of all eating habits as long as they are made up of fresh, whole-food ingredients, those who know me know I love my steak and red meat. So I asked McBean what he thought of those who think meat is ‘bad’ for you.
“I wouldn’t want to interfere with anyone’s diet preferences, but, I would be wondering where they are getting sufficient iron and protein from...we are meant to eat meat!”
Being a man who stands behind his meat, I was a little shocked when Gary said he hadn’t heard of the Paleo diet. When I explained it’s basis he said “I didn’t think grains were very good for you anyway?” Too right, McBean. Even without having known what the Paleo diet entails, McBean know’s the effects of grains because no piece of meat he will sell you will have been grain fed.
Of his dry-aged variety (which you can see through his see-through cool room at the Prahran market location) McBean says that this type of meat is truly for the “steak connoisseur”.
“Dry-aging breaks down all of the enzymes in the muscles and it becomes more tender and when the moisture is drawn out, it enhances the flavour. Just like cheese and wine improves with age!”
Fairly enough, when I asked McBean which restaurant he thinks serves up the best steak in Melbourne he tells me, “in the last 30 years that I’ve been out for dinner I have never ordered a steak!” Although, he wants you all to know, “I am steak a lover! I love a rib-eye, cooked medium-rare, served with a side salad.”
Even so, McBean’s “heard” that Vlados in Richmond do a top steak along with La Luna in Carlton and Steer in South Yarra.
McBean loves Market Lane Coffee at the Prahran Market as well as Dukes in Windsor for a top brunch and a top coffee. “On the odd occasion that I do go out for brunch”, McBean adds.
And who recommends Gary’s Quality Meats apart from Nourish Melbourne? McBean proudly tells me that Gary’s Quality Meats is Matt Preston’s choice for tip-top meat from a tip-top bloke. I say, "ditto".
Words by Natasha Mason
Gary's Quality Meats | Organic Butcher Melbourne
Shop 515, Prahran Market
163 Commercial Road, South Yarra VIC 3141
(03) 9826 0815
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