Outpost Road Trip

Buedel’s Corporate Chef, Rlogouss Kramer, Master Butcher, Peter Heflin, and Logistics Manager, Michael Tibbs, took a road trip to Outpost Natural Foods recently to help celebrate Outpost’s fourth store opening in Mequon, Wisconsin.

Outpost is the fourth largest natural foods co-op (by sales) in the U.S. They are known for providing a unique, fun and educational shopping experience of fresh, local and natural foods, including hard to find items. They are a IMG_20140621_104539444_HDR“locally-owned cooperative” committed to sustainable living, fair trade, local growers and community. Outpost stores are “year-round farmers markets.”

When you send a bunch of meat guys out to celebrate something (anything, for that matter) you have to know there’ll be loads of high quality meat on hand. Russ, Peter and Michael spent the day “slow-smoking” Niman Ranch St. Louis Ribs. (Russ used his competition BBQ team’s glaze and sauce. They won a Grand Champion title at the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ photo 3last year – and don’t even think about asking him for the recipes.) The Buedel team prepared “split” ribs (cut in half for appetizer sized servings) for the event.

The Huen Family, one of Niman Ranch’s family farms from Fulton, Illinois, was also on hand to talk to customers about the way they raise their hogs for Niman Ranch, and answer questions. (Buedel supplies Outpost with Niman Ranch products and organic poultry.) Peter says the Outpost people are just great to work with and are totally dedicated to keeping to their core vision. “The Outpost staff is behind the whole movement and their customer base is very supportive, giving a lot of feedback to all the departments about sustainability and humane practices.”

St. Louis Style Ribs were first pophoto 1pularized in the 1930′s by butchers in the St. Louis area. They are actually Spare Ribs with the rib tips cut off to dispose of cartilage and gristle with very little meat. St. Louis Ribs didn’t become an “official USDA standard” until the 1980’s. Both Spare and St. Louis Style Ribs are most commonly grilled and smoked in the southern regions of the U.S. For more info about ribs, check our Meat Up post on Ribs 101 for Summer Grilling. If you’d like to try some St. Louis Ribs in your own backyard, here’s a recipe from Russ:

St. Louis Spare Ribs at Home

Spread a light coating of yellow mustard and liberally sprinkle your favorite BBQ Spice/Rub on both sides of the ribs.

Bake ribs on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes until lightly brown. Transfer ribs to roasting pan with about an inch of water on the bottom, cover tightly and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour until meat is tender between the bones.

Preheat grill to a medium heat. Cook ribs until they are nice and brown on the outside. Brush your favorite BBQ sauce on both sides of ribs when they’re just about ready and let the sauce glaze.

Have a great Fourth of July everyone!

From the desk of John Cecala || Website LinkedIn @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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The Art of the Burger


Burger by Eddie Merlot’s

With the grilling and summer seasons now in high gear, burgers are all but a mandatory requirement for outdoor barbecuing. So what are some of the best ways to avoid patty pitfalls? Here are our top five suggestions for perfecting your next grill:

I. Begin With Raw Quality

Start out with the right type of ground beef. There are burgers made from beef trimmings and burgers made from whole muscle cuts – the significant differences being in price, taste and quality.   

Burgers Made from Trim  

Most burgers you see in supermarkets and fast food restaurant chains are made from beef trimmings ground up with added fat. These are the cheapest burgers you can buy because they’re made from by-products.

Typical examples of by-products include: Rose Meat – the muscle just under the animal’s skin that it shakes to swat away flies; Baader Material – the last traces of skeletal muscle meat and sinew that are scraped from animal bones with a Baade groundbeefafter the primal cuts have been carved off manually and Whizard Trim – extracted from the neck bones and much of the leftover trimmings and fat of a beef carcass. 

These types of burger are usually marketed with some kind of lean/fat ratio like, “75/25” or “80/20” (lots of dairy cows end up as this type of ground beef after their milking days are over).  Ground beef and burgers made from grinding beef trimmings and fat together are fine but lack the rich depth of flavor and consistency that burgers made from ground whole muscle cuts deliver.  

Burgers Made from Whole Muscle Cuts

“Premium” or “Gourmet” burgers are made from grinding whole muscle cuts. Ground chuck is one of the most popular varieties seen on the market today. Whole beef chucks are ground without adding fat or beef trimmings which produces a rich beefy tasting burger.

BuedelBSC_BURGER_FLYER_v1Whole muscle cuts take burger art to the next level in a variety of ways. For example, at Buedel Fine Meats, we produce burgers from whole muscle cuts of USDA Prime Angus beef, USDA Choice Angus beef, a blend of both Prime and Choice Angus beef, and blends of whole muscle Brisket/Short Rib/Chuck. This unique combination brings together the buttery flavor of the brisket with the richness of the short rib and the traditional beefy flavor of the chuck producing a juicy burger that bursts with layers of decadent flavor.

II. Find Your Grind: Fine, Medium or Coarse

The “bite” of the burger or “mouth feel” are terms that professional chefs and restaurateurs use when taste testing burgers. In addition to the type of meat used, the texture of the grind is extremely important. You can choose between fine, medium and coarse ground beef for adjusting the bite of the burger.

Fine grinds give a smoother mouth feel and bite because the beef grind is smaller and most of the natural sinew or gristle is undetectable. Coarse grinds have a rougher chunkier type of bite and mouth feel because the beef grind is larger and has more natural sinew. Medium grinds, as you would expect, are right in the middle having a rougher type of bite with less of the chunkiness you get with coarse grinds.

Buedel recommends fine grinds, which are used by most of the hottest burger places; fine grinds provide a great eating experience for customers. Finer grinds are the best choice for backyard barbecuing because they tend to cook more evenly; they are also the best choice for homemade meatballs and meatloaf. Fine grinds are the most popular and versatile grind.

III. Choose Between Hand Made and Formed Patties

Portion PattyBurgers can be formed by hand or by a patty machine. There are benefits to both methods.Burgers formed by hand from bulk ground beef can easily be formed to any desired size. They can be loose packed or tightly packed depending upon your tastes. Hand formed burgers are great for back yard grilling because they’re easy to make and guests can pick the size they like. 

Large volume burger operators, such as restaurants and caterers, use formed patties to provide uniform portions, ensure maximum cost control and save the labor of hand prepared patties. Formed patties also come in numerous sizes, shapes and thicknesses. Buedel offers Burger Balls, which are portion controlled ground beef balls that can be hand smashed to give the appearance of a hand formed burger with all the benefits of portion control.

IV. Cook to Perfection

Cooking is by far the most important part of burger art. Burgers can be baked, fried, grilled or broiled. We polled the Buedel staff for some of their tried and true burger tips and suggestions:


Scotty’s “Shewman” Special

When grilling burgers, I make an indentation in the middle of the burger before grilling to stop the burger from puffing up, so they grill more evenly. For toppings, I like to borrow from the best seller at Scotty’s Brewhouse, bacon, peanut butter, jalapeño and cheddar burger. Sounds strange, but it is amazingly delicious!          Scott Dowden  (20 year meat professional)

I have found when grilling beef, (especially burgers), turning the meat only once is the most important tip. I stay away from pepper as a seasoning because pepper tends to leave a “burnt” like finish and texture to the meat. I only use kosher salt on the beef after I turn it, lightly sprinkling the salt on top of the cooked side. Peter Heflin (aka “Pete the Butcher”)

6-8 ounce whole muscle chuck makes the perfect hearty backyard burger. Season with salt, pepper and a hint of granulated garlic, or use a dry rub for a spicier flavor. Always keep burgers refrigerated until ready to grill and always cook them on high heat. Never EVER “squeeze” them down when cooking or you will lose the precious juices – that’s where much of the flavor hides!  Russ Kramer  (Buedel Corporate Chef)

Don’t over handle the meat. Season well, but refrain from adding onions, mushrooms or breadcrumbs into the mixture (because that makes it more like meat loaf). Make the patties uniform in size and weight and don’t salt the meat until they are on the grill.  James Melnychuk  (Chef Sales Rep)

For maximum food safety, the USDA recommends cooking to 160 degrees for all ground meat.  Use a meat thermometer and probe the center of the burger for a temperature reading. If you are making cheeseburgers, put the cheese on at the very end of cooking and close the lid just long enough to melt the cheese. Remove the burgers from the grill and let them stand 3-5 minutes before serving – use that time to toast your hamburger buns on the grill. Tim Vlcek (Principal & Executive V.P. of Production & Food Safety)

V. Explore Creative Toppings

According to Burger Trends, consumers still favorite traditional burger toppers such as, tomato, onions, lettuce and pickles, but “interest in non-traditional flavors are growing”.

This year, crunchy, smoky and spicy are big in/on burgers – that and even fried eggs. Unique flavor combinations and cuisines such as, Greek infused burgers with cucumber sauce, goat cheese and spinach, example current flavor trends. There is no limit to the varieties of seasonings and toppings being used today.

Develop the art of your burger with quality raw meats, best grinds and forms. Cook with care and serve with your own twist on unique and traditional spices, condiments and toppings. Visit our gourmet burger page for more information. Enjoy!


From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook BuedelFanPage 


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Meat Picks | 6.13.13


cigarsThere are still some tickets left for the 2nd annual CigarBQue slated for Friday, June 21st.

CigarBQue raises funds on behalf of the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation who helps impoverished communities where cigars are produced. Created by Executive Chefs (and friends), Rick Gresh,(Primehouse), Giuseppe Tentori, (Boca) and Cleetus Friedman, (Fountainhead), Gresh says they came  up    with the idea to do an event when they couldn’t logofind a good place to “get together to eat, drink and have cigars”. The trio hopes to expand their charitable concept to other cities in the future. See our full interview with Chef Gresh here.

Burger of the Month

PetetheButcherBurgerChicago’s prestigious Saloon Steakhouse honored Buedel Master Butcher, Peter Heflin, this month by creating the Pete the Butcher burger for their monthly promotion. The half pound prime grade burger, which comes topped with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, horseradish and smoked kielbasa, has patrons smacking their lips in total Saloon-style satiable satisfaction. “I am not worthy to be a part of the exploding Chicago burger movement in such an exquisite setting as Saloon Steakhouse,” Heflin reflected. “Thank you, Chef Boris!”

What is Local?

In preparing for the NRA Show last month, we put together some new cheat sheets for defining and buying “local”. Beyond distance, local is really more about: healthier eating, fresher foods, family farmers, environment, humane animal treatment and sustainable agriculture.BuedelLocalLogoTM

Our team also developed a logo to show local support. Please feel free to share and use!

New Addition

LWoodsChineseTakeOut2L. Woods Tap & Pine Lodge in Lincolnwood came up with a great idea – adding Chinese take out to their carryout business. Offering appetizers, fried rice and standard entrees such as Mongolian Beef and Kung Pao Chicken, L. Woods definitely delivers the best of everyone’s world. You can of course order online too.

Dads’ Day Out

Did you know that Father’s Day is the third biggest dining out hFathersDauoliday after Mother’s Day and Valentines Day? According to the National Restaurant Association, it is estimated that 50 million Americans will take dad out for a meal this Sunday. Going to “Dad’s favorite” is the leading factor in deciding restaurant choice.

Happy Father’s Day!


From the desk of John Cecala  Twitter@BuedelFineMeats Facebook BuedelFanPage

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Helping Change the Way We Eat at the Good Food Festival & Conference

I was honored to participate at the Good Food Festival & Conference (GFFC) in Chicago late last week. The annual event is organized by Family Farmed.org under the leadership of Jim Slama, the organization’s president and local food movement passionate.

The Family Farmed mission is to expand the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food to enhance the social, economic and environmental health of our communities. Having healthy good food produced as close to home as possible by family farmers and producers that use sustainable, humane and fair practices is a core objective.

The GFFC provides a platform to link local farmers and family-owned producers of food and farm products with the public, trade buyers and industry leaders to foster relationships and facilitate growth of local food systems. Unlike traditional food shows, Good Food is geared to connect the often disparate functions of food finance, policy, education and farming.

Good Food Finance

Day One of the GFFC is dedicated to the business side of food production at the Financing Conference. National and regional leaders in farming, food production and finance provide education and help create channels for small farms and local businesses to access capital for financing growth.

One of the educational presentations given this year was by Erin Guyer of Whole Foods Market. Guyer talked about the company’s $8 million social investment program providing low interest loans to small-scale and start-up food producers for expansion. Local businesses also learned about financing options such as Crowd Funding, the Chicago Community Loan Fund and First Farm Credit Services. Many attendees would not normally have the opportunity to learn about such things if not for the conference.

The second part of Day One is spent at the Good Food Financing Fair. Designed in a walk-around format, the fair provides a dynamic environment where farms and food businesses can meet one-on-one with investors, economic development specialists and other experts to develop relationships. Companies may also set up tables to showcase their products for investors to learn more. Contacts are made, and knowledge is shared in one convenient setting.

Good Food Symposium & Policy Summit

Day Two brings together national and local business leaders to share their experiences in taking the Good Food Movement to a higher level.

Major announcements were made last week by foodservice directors from the Chicago Public Schools, McCormick Place and Midway Airport on new commitments to purchase local food and anti-biotic free meat and poultry.

Recognition was also made for Good Food Business Leadership to Bob Scaman from Goodness Greeness for supporting local farmers and organic food. Farmer of the Year awards were given to farmers, Alex Needham and Alison Parker of Radical Rood Farm, and farm mentors, Matt and Peg Sheaffer of Sandhill Family Farms.

The quest to improve access for Chicago residents to culturally appropriate nutritionally sound and affordable food grown through environmentally sustainable ways is led by the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council.

Food policy focus was made on building urban farms and community food systems to use local food as an economic tool. Keynote speakers discussed methods to engage the community to improve healthy neighborhood food options. Ideally, if a local community can connect to the local Good Food Movement in an organized manner everyone benefits from the symbiotic relationship. The Policy Summit facilitates these connections and provides the tools to leverage them.

Good Food Trade Show

More than 300 local farmers, distributors and artisanal food producers exhibited at the Trade Show on the last two days of the festival. Sponsor support from Organic Valley, Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition  and others, helped promote the Good Food Community and provide a platform for food producers to present their products to trade buyers and other stakeholders.

Buedel Fine Meats partnered with sponsor/exhibitor Red Meat Market, an online/offline social marketplace where meat buyers easily source and order local sustainable meat in one place from multiple local providers. Red Meat showcases all natural, organic and grass-fed beef, pork and lamb products raised in SW Wisconsin and Northern Illinois from over 100 family farms.

We featured live butcher and cooking demos in our booth geared to show people how they can easily butcher and cook local meats for tasty and economical meals at home. Our line-up was extensive: Ben Harrison of Whole Foods Market showed how to breakdown a leg of lamb provided by local Slagel Family Farm, Chef Ryan Hutmacher of the Centered Chef  showed how to make delicious lamb kabob gyros on whole wheat pita, Buedel’s own “Pete the Butcher” (Peter Heflin) demonstrated how to breakdown grass fed beef tenderloin and roll & tie a grass fed beef rib roast provided by Red Meat Market, Chef Alex Lee showed how to cook a simple pan fry with a unique salsa verde and Joe Parajecki, head butcher at  Standard Market and award winning sausage maker, prepared a special St. Patrick’s Day sausage recipe.  (To say that we had a fun, and eventful food experience at our booth would be an understatement.)

Good Food Events & Workshops

The last day of the GFFC is traditionally filled with a plethora of knowledge workshops and events geared to public awareness. This year attendees could choose from adventures such as the, Urban & Vertical Farm Tours, Home Cheese Making and the Kimchi Challenge which pitted Chicago Chefs against one other in the art of fermentation. (Elizabeth David of Green Zebra is now the new champion.) Other local Chefs, such as, Rick Bayless (Xoxo, Frontera Grill, Topolobampo), Carrie Nahabedian (Naha) and Paul Virant (Perennial Virant, Vie) conducted cooking demonstrations pairing local farmers’ products with their own uniquely creative culinary skills.

The Good Food Festival & Conference started in 2004. Each year it grows larger as more of us take the time to understand where our food comes from and interest in supporting local communities.


From the desk of John Cecala  Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Meat Picks | 3.8.13

Beat Bust

One of the most trying things about a content driven society is keeping clarity. Such is the case in a recent Bloomberg post entitled, “Cattle Disappearing Amid Drought Signals”.

There’s no denying the fact the cattle industry has been challenged by drought and low cattle supply for over two years now, yet use per capita consumption of beef has declined keeping prices in check.

The sky isn’t falling yet. Consider several other facts: 1) commodity beef is being produced today with less cattle and 2) there are other protein choices in the marketplace.

Domestic and export consumer demand will ultimately dictate the impact the drought has on the price of beef.

Meat is Good Food

Red Meat Market is one of the local sponsors at this year’s Good Food Festival scheduled at the UIC Forum beginning March 14th. The annual festival, which takes the concept of “localicious” to a whole new level, is dedicated to promoting good food to schools, industry and families.

Buedel’s own Master Butcher, Peter Heflin, will be on hand at Red Meat’s booth on Friday, March 15th at 2 p.m. and then on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. to teach festival goers how to cut, trim and tie tenderloins and roasts. Purchase admission and event tickets here.

Social Savvy Sale

When Tuesday’s snow storm struck the city, Carnivale quickly crafted a deal for the “blizzard special”. Using their social media newsfeeds, the restaurant offered to pay the cab fare [restrictions applied] for patrons willing to brave the storm to come in for dinner that night.

Most commonly used for live events (think, Oscars, Idol, etc.) and to navigate customer service requests/complaints, real time social media marketing is a hot topic. Current schools of thought suggest adding it to your social tool box as one strategy among many.

Chicago Chef Week 

Chicago Chef Week, not to be confused with Restaurant Week which ran last month, will begin on Sunday March, 17th and run through the 22nd. (According to the Chicagoist, there are some establishments who only participate in Chef Week.)

Three and four course lunch and dinner deals are being offered at over 70 restaurants in the city. You can find the complete list of restaurants online and make reservations at Open Table.


From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Meat Picks | 10.4.12

What’s Hot Now?

Numerous reports from the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators (MUFSO) show which ran earlier this week in Dallas are now out. According to Nation’s Restaurant News reporter, Bret Thorn; Chicken – that’s all chicken is in – boneless chicken is hot.

Thorn also reports that corporate chefs say, “their customers were willing to experiment with new flavors like never before”, that the thirst for “candy-flavored vodkas” and “spiced rums” are trending big and that just about anything in the beverage cat flavored with chile or cinnamon is a good thing. Read Bret’s full report here.

Oyster Fest Block Party is next week!

The 24th annual Shaw’s Crab House Oyster Fest kicks offs next Monday, October 8th. Special deals and fishy fun like the, “oyster slurping contest”, are scheduled throughout the weeklong celebration which builds up to Shaw’s much anticipated block party on Friday, the 12th 4,000+ attended last year’s event!

Block party doors open at 3 and country singer/songwriter Lee Brice is this year’s headliner. Tickets are affordably priced at $25, (you better get ‘em now) available online. Inquiries by phone at: 312-527-2722.

Little Known Fact

Earlier this week we published an interview with Peter Heflin entitled, What is a Master Butcher?  Peter, who is part of the Buedel customer sales team, is also a master butcher himself – but that’s not the little known fact.

What you probably don’t know is he’s also, “Pete the Butcher”. It’s true, Heflin is a Kevhead.

Peter was part of the Chicago radio scene during the hey days of Loop DJ’s Kevin Matthews and Steve Dahl. His returning on air cut-up role as, Pete the Butcher, was based in fact – Heflin worked at the butcher shop where Dahl and Matthews actually shopped for meat. Who knew?

You can subscribe to Kevin Matthews’ current bi-weekly podcasts (including 30+ years of radio archives) by subscription on the Steve Dahl Network.


From the desk of John Cecala  Twitter @BuedelFineMeats   Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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What is a Master Butcher?

People often ask us, “What is a Master Butcher?”.

While there is no official certification to become a Master Butcher, like a Master Chef, the title carries equal weight in recognition of achieving the highest level of expertise in its field. With this in mind, I spoke with one of Buedel’s own Master Butchers, Peter Heflin, to share his insight.

What does it mean to be a Master Butcher?

A “Master Butcher” is one who has knowledge in the cutting of all types of beef, pork, lamb, veal, and poultry. Master butchers understand the meat operation process from beginning to end. They know how age rotation is handled, how to make every cut of steak, roast, or chop and have a good idea of yields and cost management through meat merchandising. They also teach others how to cut meat.

In traditional butcher shops, it was a position that typically ran the whole department, from purchasing all the way down to cutting and packing. Master Butchers are fast movers and straight talkers; we’re folks that don’t relax much.

There’s a lot of toil in the meat department from set up to production, to clean up. There should be no duty a Master Butcher can’t do in their shop – that takes years of experience and training.

Why is age rotation important?

Beef needs to be properly aged to insure tenderness and flavor.  Even USDA Prime beef selected from the finest packers, will be tough and flavorless without proper age.

Age has a lot to do with consistency as well. A Master Butcher needs to assure that the meat being cut for final sale always has the same age to deliver the same tenderness and flavor as the last steak the customer bought.

The aging process is simply a breakdown process of fat and muscle tissue that makes the meat softer.  If the beef is not being aged correctly, or rotated evenly, cut steaks will not have the same taste and tenderness from order to order, which will result in loss of business.

How does meat merchandising come into play?

Meat merchandising is about getting the most out of the meat cuts for the most “value”, or money.  When primal cuts (whole loins, rounds and chucks) come in, there are many ways the different pieces can be cut up and sold.

A Master Butcher has the expertise and knowledge to get the maximum dollar for the whole piece.  This can change with the seasons, the economic climate, or even the restaurant application.  It’s never a “set in stone” procedure for every cut.

The main objective is to get the most return for every piece of meat that comes through the department. Good merchandising also creates more options for chefs and satisfaction for their customers!

A Master Butcher is many things. He or she is a master at their craft, understands the business of food and is dedicated to customer satisfaction – always.

Do you think meat cutting is a lost art?

Butcher shops, as we once knew them, have been lost  due to centralized cutting and pre-fabricated product coming from the harvest facilities, however, the art of butchering is making a comeback for sure.

We are seeing more and more chef driven butcher shops sprouting up now, due to chefs looking for cuts not always available from packers and also foodies’ desires to cut their own meat.

One of the best things I like about the Buedel team of Master Butchers is that we help all customers. We specialize in setting up cut steal programs, support those who want to cut their own steaks and chops and actually cut with them to help maximize yields. What other meat company does that?

I believe everything circles back and we are seeing the art of meat cutting returning. And that’s a very good thing for all of us!

Please feel free to contact Peter with any questions or comments. He can be reached directly at: peter.heflin@buedelfoods.com.


From the desk of  John Cecala  Twitter @Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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