Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye...

Those who know me well know that I love small businesses, especially when it comes to food and drink.  Screw Anheuser-Busch In-Bev, I rather spend my money on a six-pack of craft beer from a local brewer.  Forget the large corporate vineyards, I rather purchase wine from a local grower, whose vineyards consist of the front and back yards of her home.

And when it comes to food, I always try my best to support the "little guy."  One such little guy was Chef Kris Kreiger, the owner of Chef's Choice Meats in Berea, Ohio.  I used the past tense because, unfortunately, Chef Kreiger closed his store last week. And, I use the word "unfortunately," because I don't think that many people in Berea will realize what they have lost. 

The best way to explain the loss is through a story.  A couple of years ago, I was in the Cleveland area visiting my parents.  I had returned from a culinary trip to Italy, where I rekindled my love of cooking and my interest in Italian cuisine.  I decided that I would cook for my parents and the meal I selected was Bistecca alla Fiorentina or Florentine Steak.  I went to Chef's Choice Meats to purchase three porterhouse steaks, the quintessential cut for the recipe. Chef Kris was there and he personally cut the steaks.  Each steak weighed in at two pounds and came from cows that were locally raised.  Moreover, the steaks were perfectly marbled.  I would later tell my parents that the steaks were "works of art," a compliment which my father relayed to Chef Kris.  To date, those porterhouses stand as the best steaks that I have ever seen, cooked with and ate.

Chef Kris also made his own rub, which stands as one of the best rubs that I have ever used.  Even though I don't live in Berea, I always stopped by his store to buy the rub to ensure that I had an adequate supply in my kitchen.  The rub is supposed to be used for chicken or pork, although I find that it also works well with beef.  With the closing of Chef's Choice Meats, my source for that rub is now gone. 

Butcher shops are few and far between these days.  People buy their meat from grocery chains who deal in such large quantities that they are able to undercut independent shops.  The meat itself is ordinary. Good butcher shops are even more rare.  And, in my humble opinion, Chef's Choice rated as one of the best, if not the best.  Berea has not lost just lost a business, it has lost a culinary treasure.

If you would like to learn more about the closing of Chef's Choice meat, here is a link to an article from Cleveland.com:

http://blog.cleveland.com/newssun/2010/06/bereas_chefs_choice_meats_to_c.html

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