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 10 km 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.
“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 10 km to my regular butcher.
As I walked into the store, I was immediately greeted with a warm welcome from an employee and the aromas from the 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 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 it is 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 travelling a farther distance to get there.
Chef Dez is a chef, writer and host. Visit him at chefdez.com.