Craig Cook’s Prime Quality Meats has once again been named a finalist in the Inner West Local Business Awards – this year for his Norton Plaza store. After the Birkenhead Point store took home the award for Best Butcher in 2012, Craig returned to the awards as a finalist last year and is proud to discover that his Leichhardt customers have voted him in again for 2014.
Here we chat to Craig about his latest nomination and the secret to his success…
Craig is the owner, master butcher and primary farmer supplying 14 Craig Cook’s Prime Quality Meats stores across New South Wales as well as the online store he started up just over a year ago. He has been in the industry since he was a teenager when he began an apprenticeship at the David Jones butchering in Wollongong, and from there he opened his own butcher shop in Dapto at age 20 – an amazing achievement for someone so young.
“I started out in the industry by accident as a young boy due to family pressures and the need to earn money to assist my family,” says Craig, “At the time I didn’t know that I would fall in love with food and the challenges and the experience of an ever changing retail butcher business.”
Today Craig attributes his success to the two things: the ability to offer a service that is second to none with a knowledge of product that is constantly changing and evolving week to week. However, his business is also set apart by the fact that Craig Cook’s have their own farms and grow their own beef. “The most popular products in our store are our naturally grown products free of any chemicals or additives, so our grass fed beef, grass fed Tova platinum lamb and our very own Byron Bay cured leg hams,” says Craig, and the knowledge of exactly where this meat comes from is a point of difference that’s very unique to a retail butcher.
Craig believes that supplying quality meat is an holistic process – from raising healthy animals in a natural environment, to carefully preparing and transporting the produce to his stores, to butchering it ethically, labelling it clearly, and helping customers to understand what they are buying. “I believe the only way to guarantee high quality, is to be involved every step of the way,” he explains.
“If I haven’t produced it, I like to know who has, and to be sure that they share my passion for natural and ethical farming practices, and treating the produce with respect during preparation, transport and storage. Because I know what I’m buying, I can provide my customers with good value and the quality they can trust.”
It’s this level of quality assurance that has customers voting for Craig Cook’s year after year – both during the business awards season and with their dollar, each time they shop locally for their meat – and Craig says “it is such a pleasure to have customers that demand a quality of service only good retail butcher can supply… I think one of my favourite things about working in the Inner West is the appreciation of high quality foods – with this desire for delicious meals, I am inspired to provide it to them.”
“We are absolutely ecstatic at the fact we have the opportunity of winning such an excellent award and that we’ve been chosen by our loyal customers,” he added. When asked whether the online side of the business enjoys the same level of success as his shopfronts, Craig said that while online is still in its very infant stages, he was seeing more and more people taking advantage of the unique service and convenience of still being able to get our product even when you might not be able to actually get to the store. This is just one of the ways Craig Cook’s is a leader in the butcher industry.
With a “clean and green” business philosophy and commitment to bringing the “paddock to the plate,” Craig Cook’s continues to stand out from the competitors even after 30 years in the business.
Craig Cook’s Prime Quality Meats: Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre, Drummoyne. For more information visit www.primequalitymeats.com.au or call 9719 8933.
CRAIG’S TIPS FOR THE PERFECT ROAST
• Judge your roast’s degree of doneness using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the meat should be: Rare – 55-60ºC, Medium – 65-70ºC, Well done – 75ºC.
• Gently prod or squeeze the roast – rare is very soft, medium rare is soft, medium is springy but soft, medium well is firm and well done is very firm.
• Place the roast on a rack in the roasting dish helps the beef to brown evenly.