Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A meaty dialogue with a master

March 16. 2013 11:41PM

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Dave Fetch Jr. knows his way around a piece of meat. The third-generation meat cutter has been cutting it for most of his life. His son, David III, is the fourth generation of the family to become a meat cutter. Fetch, 59, owner of Fetch's Kielbassi Shop & Meat Market on Wyoming Avenue in Wyoming, next to the building that housed his grandfather's first store 90 years ago, answered some questions earlier this week about the meat-cutting business and how he got his start.

Question: How long have you been a butcher?

DF: I've been a butcher since about 1969. I was trimming out bones when I was 5 years old.

Q: Did you learn from your father?

DF: I learned from my grandfather and my father.

Q: Do you see butchering changing?

DF: It's changed dramatically in recent years. The whole industry is going further processing. (The meat is cut before it is delivered to the grocery store.) If you notice you'll see a lot more prepared meals. But there's always going to be room for a meat cutter. We're called meat cutters now, not butchers.

Q: Are there any new techniques for cutting meat?

DF: There's only so many ways you could cut a piece of meat. What they're looking for is specialty cuts. Especially for holidays, some want fresh turkey breast boned and rolled, crown pork roast, standing rib roast … People aren't going to risk a lousy piece of meat, so they look for a meat cutter to cut a special piece of meat for them. That goes for the rest of the year for special functions, special gatherings.

Q: Was meat cutting something you always wanted to do?

DF: I was born into it, and life has its twists and turns. But I enjoy it. When somebody comes and wants a special cut for a special occasion, I have to get into their head and see what they're thinking. Ninety-nine percent of the time it works out.

Q: What are you most particular about?

DF: Everything. Our trim is the best. Every piece of meat we trim to perfection. And every piece of meat is going to be tender. I won't sell a piece of meat if I'm not sure it's going to be tender. We only buy choice or prime.

Q: What is the high point of your job?

DF: When a person requests a piece of meat, and I cut it and they smile. That makes me feel good. They say that looks beautiful, or I've had people say that's too nice to cook.

Q: What do customers ask for the most?

DF: It depends on the season time or year. Summertime, it's steaks and ribs; wintertime, kielbasa and roast and pork, different types of pork. … Christmas and Easter are ham. Of course, Thanksgiving it's turkey.

Q: What is most popular in the meat world right now?

DF: Chicken is very popular year round. That's the mainstay 52 weeks a year, and the most reasonably priced 52 weeks a year.

Q: How long has your store been in business?

DF: Ninety years. My grandfather started in 1922 on Sixth Street (in Wyoming). Then he was where Januzzi's is, at Sixth and Wyoming Avenue, right across the street from where I am. He moved to the corner in 1940. From 1970 to 1992, I had a wholesale business. I had two supermarkets, in Plymouth and Wyoming. There were three at one point (with a second in Wyoming). In 2010, I sold the Plymouth store. That was the last one. I opened the meat market with my son and myself. For holidays, I get help from others I've worked with in the past who I know do good work.

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