Trust the reliable butcher

Whenever I make meatballs or burger patties from scratch, an ingredient that I always use is ground chuck.
Ground chuck is not the typical ground beef you can easily find at any major grocery store–it can only be found at butcher shops.
It has a higher fat content and a much beefier flavour; a secret ingredient among chefs you could say.
My regular favourite butcher is about 10km away from my house.
Recently however, I needed ground chuck and I was in a bit of a hurry, so I decided to go to a closer, unfamiliar butcher shop instead.
The first thing I noticed was that there were a lot of empty spots in the refrigerated display case, and thus not a lot of selection.
A woman walked out from the back and greeted me.
I couldn’t see any ground chuck in the display case, so I asked, “Do you have any ground chuck?”
She looked puzzled. “Ground chuck? What is that?” she replied.
I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. “Every butcher shop has ground chuck” I answered with the first thing that came to mind.
She quickly apologized and informed me that she was a new employee there. She then proceeded to get someone else to help me.
Another woman appeared from the back only to advise me that they don’t have ground chuck.
Considering the lack of selection of meats on display, I wasn’t surprised, but still disappointed.
I left the store muttering to myself, “How can a butcher store not have ground chuck?” This has never happened to me before.
I got in my vehicle and drove the 10km to my regular butcher.
As I walked into their store I was immediately greeted with a warm welcome from an employee and the aromas from their on-site kitchen embraced my senses like a welcoming friend.
I proceeded to the butcher display case and not only was it fully stocked with ground chuck, but also every kind of meat and seafood that I could ever imagine getting locally.
I smiled and quickly came to the realization that I should have just trusted my instincts and came here in the first place. I was quickly greeted again, and my order of ground chuck was fulfilled immediately.
I think that as consumers, we don’t fully realize what it takes to run a successful business, especially one that deals in perishables.
There is so much training and ongoing fine tuning of inventory levels to make sure that the needs of consumers are met and at the same time making sure that little is wasted.
When you walk into a store and they are fully stocked with whatever you need, there’s a level of comfort and value within that.
The ease of getting what you want with great selection and feeling welcome is the perfect shopping experience in my mind.
The one thing I learned from this, more than anything else, is to trust these types of businesses that go the extra mile for the consumer, even if it means traveling a farther distance to get there.
The pleasant and satisfying experience was well worth my time and effort.
In closing, please support your local butcher (or any other business) that goes out of their way for an amazing shopping experience.
Until next time: Happy cooking, and happy shopping.
Chef Dez is a chef, writer, and host. Visit him at
Write to him at dez@chefdez.comor P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4