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Interview With A Butcher

Winn Dixie Butcher of over 20 Years

Haven't we all wondered how that piece of meat found our dinner plate. What was it's journey before we devoured it? Meat doesn't just fall from the skies, it has a story...a beginning, middle and end.

Hi, my name is Sunshine and I am also known as the "Queen Of Questions." I have decided to put my curiosity to work for your entertainment and mine. Since my mind is always in overdrive, due to curiosity, why not share what I've learned with you.

My first stop on this new mission is to interview a butcher and pick his brain (not literally, I'm not that curious, YET) to find some answers to many meat questions. You might decide to go the vegetarian route after reading this. If you are squeamish you might want to stop reading now, but I hope you are brave enough to learn something new today.

To animal activists...don't shot the messenger! Some of us enjoy our poultry and beef and we appreciate where it came from and wonder how it got to our plates.

David Ligler...the best Winn Dixie butcher that Orlando has ever had.

David Ligler...the best Winn Dixie butcher that Orlando has ever had.

Your local butcher should also have answers to your meat questions...


Amazon - Knife Set

Quality butchers are a rare find...

Why did you become a butcher? At the age of 14 I was looking for a part-time job. Because I was considered a big boy at 5'11 and 180 lbs the manager of the meat department decided to put me to work for him. He thought being a bag boy would be a waste of my brawny muscles. The rest is history.

How long have you been a meat cutter? This year will mark my 47th year as a butcher. The wages I earned from my trade got me through high school and college at Florida State University. After I graduated from FSU I applied for jobs in my field of Pre-Law. The opportunities weren't available and meat-cutting paid better.

What's the difference between meat markets, then and now? Back in the day they used to actually break the cattle down. It was delivered in four pieces and we had to break the quarters down to smaller cuts. The cattle was then hung on railings. We would lift the cattle off the railings and remove the fat and trimmings. Slaughterhouses and beef packaging plants changed the methods we use today. Slaughterhouses make more profit by breaking down the animals themselves. At the present time meat departments receive one cow in twelve pieces, de-boned and cryo-packed. The meat is ready to cut.

How is ham considered pork? Ham is made from the hind leg of the pig. It's cured and sold as ham.

Did you ever kill your own holiday meal? Yes. Many turkeys and also a hog. I shot the hog, skinned it and cleaned it. I then proceeded to hang it in a meat cooler until it firmed up into a gel-like consistency. When that process was over I butchered it and relished it.

What is the most common question you receive from customers? They approach me holding a piece of meat, any cut of meat and ask me "how do I cook this?" I receive this question from all ages, 20 years old to 90 years old. I always oblige with an answer. Some answers take longer then others, I'm a man of patience though. To a point.

What's the best type of cut of meat for a Pot Roast? Boneless or bone-in chuck roast. This cut has enough fat to slow cook and still maintain it's tenderness.

What's the best type of cut for steaks? Filet Mignon. This cut comes from the lean, tender muscle in the cow. It's a lazy muscle that doesn't do much work so this makes the filet very mouth-watering. I also suggest the porterhouse or t-bone. This cut come from the short loin of the cow.

Can you suggest some grilling tips? First and foremost try your best to not overcook the meat. My secret to good grilling is to lightly sear both sides of the meat. This helps seal in the juices.

Can you explain marbling in meat and the benefits of it? Marbling is the fat (white) running through the grain of beef. This fat helps tenderize the beef when cooked. The more marbling the more delicious the meat. It adds flavor.


Where's the beef?

What exactly is in GROUND Beef? It's excess beef trim that can't be sold as a specific cut of beef. Back in the day chicken gizzards were added to give the grinds the reddish appearance. That practice is no longer allowed, that I know of. There are no fillers in ground beef. Again, that I know of.

Do you consider your craft a form of art? Absolutely. Meat cuts have to be eye appealing to the consumer. It's like taking a blank canvas and painting the Mona Lisa. (Sunshine...That was deep for a meat man)!

Would you recommend this trade to someone who might be considering it? Yes, I would. Not everyone has the capability of being a meat cutter even though there are many people who call themselves meat cutters. Just like with any other profession you have to want to be the best. Butchers work in a cold environment so if you don't like the cold, this wouldn't be the trade for you. You have to be a people pleaser, make your customers happy so they keep coming back for more.

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Do you have requests for Beef Tongue? Yes. Tongue is popular among the British and I'm sure other cultures. (Sunshine...ewwww)

Can you tell us something about meat that we might not already know? All the fears from catching diseases from fresh meat would be eliminated if all meat is cooked greater then 140* as it's internal temperature. At this temperature all bacteria are killed.

Is there a question I didn't ask, that you feel is relevant to this interview? No. Sunshine, you covered this interview well. I am available for follow-up questions if needed. (Sunshine...awwww thank you Mr. Butcher aka hubby!)

Where's the Beef TV commercial...

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile...

The butcher and I met while working for Winn Dixie grocers. At first we were friends, then co-workers, then came marriage...Oscar Mayer Lunchmeat was quite the matchmaker.

I hope you enjoy this story as much as we enjoy sharing it ... Oscar Mayer & Winn Dixie

© 2011 Linda Bilyeu

The Butcher is available for questions upon request:

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on December 14, 2015:

Happy 65th Birthday to the butcher! Dave is gone, but never forgotten.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 20, 2014:

Thanks Tetsuya for your feedback!

Tetsuya on July 29, 2013:

Our local butcher has bacon at least two ordres of magnitude better than the grocery store "basic" bacon.The pork walks in the back, the smoker is on-site, and you can taste the delicious murder in every bite.In fact, now that I think of it, there's a good chance that the stuff has never been frozen, except when I buy extra and freeze it.They have it in BBQ flavor (the smaller slices from the end get that treatment) and peppercorn, which is _fantastic_, it is a reminder of the days when pepper was a valuable curing spice and worth an equal weight of gold.And when I can't get Hasslebach's bacon, I have Lee Williams bacon from the other direction ... I've become a complete bacon snob, the same way finding a hobby roaster operating out of the back of his bicycle shop made me into a coffee snob.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on June 18, 2013:

Thank you for all your witty, informative and entertaining comments! :)

Trinity M on September 04, 2012:

What a super, interesting hub Sunshine! I love my meat and this was really very useful to me :) Seeing as the esteemed Mr Butcher man is also your hubby I suspect you get tasty steak at home all the time (pun intended if you are so inclined! *wink*wink*). Loved this hub. Up useful and interesting.

KDuBarry03 on September 01, 2012:

Oh god...this takes me back to culinary school: different knives were used for different cuts of meet to get the silverskin off, getting the right portions cut, etc...poor cow I MEAN uh...delicious fillet mignon! :D

HouseBuyersUS from Centreville, Virginia, USA on August 31, 2012:

Hello Sunshine...

You always come up with something new and interesting. I enjoy reading your hubs every time because of its quality and new contents...voted up!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 30, 2012:

A very fascinating and informative hub as usual Linda. Now I know the inside story of meat a bit better.

Voted up & beautiful.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on August 30, 2012:

Sorry, I wanted to read this one earlier and am now finally getting a moment to actually do it. First off, my grandfather was a butcher for most of his adult life too and was told so many stories by him over the years. He also loved being a butcher and remember him telling me that one of the questions he received all the time was, "What cut of meat is the best" or "How can you tell which is a good piece of meat to buy". Also, my ex boyfriend (with alcohol problems) was a butcher too and also loved his profession. So I very much enjoyed this article and could relate to it. Have of course voted up, shared and tweeted too!!

Mohan Kumar from UK on August 30, 2012:

Holy Cow! This is absolutely stuffed with info - learnt a lot from this hub and the wonderful Butcher you interviewed. As a Hindu boy who eats steak ( Don't tell my Grandma!) I'm risking my karmic future on a nice Filet Mignon. although I do like a sirloin with peppercorn sauce. yum. voted up and shared!

Rich from Kentucky on August 30, 2012:

Linda -

My mother used to make the best beef tongue around. My father wouldn't eat it either, but then, I wouldn't touch liver. Still won't, except to pass it to someone else. I actually helped out in the meat department of an old IGA foodliner in the late 60's. You'd be surprised everything that's tossed in hamburger. lol Interesting hub!

Mary Craig from New York on August 30, 2012:

From the Queen of Lists to the Queen of Questions with a smooth and successful transition! This was a great interview and one most of us thoroughly need. Meat is such a staple in most diets and the more we know the better off we are. Thank you to Dave as well for giving all those educational answers.

Voted up, useful, funny, and interesting.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on August 30, 2012:

What an interesting hub, Sunshine. You're lucky to have a butcher in the family. I don't even know how to cut up a whole chicken! : )

There is a great midwest grocery chain called Fareway where all the meat is still behind the butcher counter and there's always a dozen butchers working to fill people's orders. That's where I buy all my meat (or at least all the meat that I don't buy directly from the farmers, which is where I get a lot of it, too). Thanks for sharing this again; I missed it the first time around.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on August 30, 2012:

I don't have a personal butcher (unlike some people I know). Must be nice, huh?? The nice butcher at Publix helps me when I have a question, though.

I learned a lot from this Hub, Linda and voted it UP and I'll share in the usual places.....

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 30, 2012:

Julie, isn't it awesome to have a butcher in the family! :)

Steph, your filet mignon's are en route to NC. ;)

Stephanie Henkel from USA on August 30, 2012:

Great interview! I especially liked the ending, aka hubby! :) It must be so handy to have a hubby who makes sure you get the best cuts of meat for your table -- mmm...order me ups some Filet Mignon!

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on August 30, 2012:

Linda, what a useful hub! My mam worked in a butchers shop for about 20 years and she is the 'go to' person for anything meat related if I'm cooking - she can tell me every cut of meat in the supermarket shelves just by looking at it - an odd but useful 'talent'.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on April 21, 2012:

You are welcome Sherri, the butcher is glad he could help with your answer!:)

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 09, 2012:

I'm surprised that the ratio is that favorable to women. TY, Mr. Sunshine!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on April 09, 2012:

Sherri, The butcher is in. His response is to the best of his knowledge the answer would be 1 in 10.

Thank you for visiting and please come back again:)

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 09, 2012:

A question for the butcher: Do you know the ratio of men to women among those who are professional butchers? ~Sherri

Martie Coetser from South Africa on April 09, 2012:

This is an excellent hub! To be shared and pinned. Thanks for adding the picture with descriptions as well.

I love beef, especially for stews and roasts. But not so keen on T-bone and steaks, except for fillet-steaks and maybe rump...


Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on April 09, 2012:

Robie, Dinkin, Paul ... Thank you for stopping by and visiting with the butcher. It's beneficial to have a butcher in the family.

Paul Edmondson from Burlingame, CA on February 09, 2012:

I love the butcher tips. One of the best things you can do is to get to know your butcher.

dinkan53 from India on February 09, 2012:

Butcher- a person with the most strongest heart. Really how one can sleep in peace after doing so much things during day... Looking from the other side it his job or it is his bread, so nothing wrong in that and your hub is so interesting that I like it. Rated up and interesting.

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on February 09, 2012:

Thank you sunshine for letting us sit in your interview with the butcher. Back in the day I used to go to a neighborhood butcher and get meat custom cut and ground and this hub made me miss that personal contact. And hey-- I love ox tongue and oxtail too yummmy and I'm American not British--- oh well-- I'm also a bit eccentric. Thanks for a great hub-- voting up and interesting

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on December 28, 2011:

Hi Real...Marbling is fat so too much isn't good. Filets are my 2nd fav. Prime rib is loaded with marbling, not a fan of that cut! London Broils are my fav! Yummy!!!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on December 28, 2011:

I had no idea marbling was a good thing! lol I would always look for meat with less:( Well now I know! Very interesting - I could never be a vegetarian...I love steak! Filet Mignon! Yum!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on October 25, 2011:

Hello DzyMsLizzy! I tried the vegetarian route at one time, I caved in but cut back on meat consumption a lot! Wishing you luck on staying on track :)

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on October 22, 2011:

I remember a neighborhood butcher shop as well, from my childhood years. However, from about age 8, when I made the connection between the leg of lamb on the dinner table to the cute little lambs we saw in fields as we drove by, I became a vegetarian at heart.

At that age, however, that option was not open to me, nor did I even know there was such a thing, and had never even heard the word. I did, however, refuse to ever eat lamb again.

As an adult, having learned the entire story behind meat, I became a full-fledged label-reading vegetarian in the mid 1980's.

These days, I have backslid a little, mainly because I don't care much for cooking, and I'd rather not have to fix 2 separate meals for myself and spouse. (I will eat SOME chicken, and more rarely a bit of pork, but I can't stand beef and lamb is still on the big no-no list). I regret the cave-in, however; I never felt stronger or healthier than when I totally eschewed meat. I'm working toward getting back there.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on October 22, 2011:

What a great story saddle! Thank you for sharing! :)

saddlerider1 on October 22, 2011:

As a boy we had a meat shop at the corner of our street. What a fascinating place to go to. My mother use to take me there, she would choose her cut and have it wrapped in a waxy brown paper. I use to listen to the butchers bantering back and forth, saw dust on the floors, a cool place for sure.

My mum use to get her pigs feet there, bring it home and boil them up, add onions and carrots and voila we had pig feet for dinner. I use to love digging at the meet between the toes:0)) I often wondered about being a butcher myself when I was a boy but never followed up on becoming one. They sure have their job CUT out for them:0)) great hub, rated UP and awesome.

Suzie from Carson City on September 28, 2011:

SunBeauty....This sure is a Tender subject. I may have to chew it for a while!! Great hub. But that's nothing new. All your hubs are awesome.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 22, 2011:

@rosemay ... the sirloin steak is not as tender as the porterhouse.

@sharyn ... head cheese is bits & pieces of hogs cooked into a gel (ewww sounds worse then tongue)!

@JT ... I never considered the 4-H :)

Thank you all for stopping by and your comments :))

JT Walters from Florida on September 22, 2011:

Hi Sunshine625,

Really informative hub. You should teach 4-H.

Vote Up.


felicitylovespari on September 22, 2011:

Good info about butchers. Voted up.

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on September 21, 2011:

Great Hub with your Hub Sunshine!

I learned a lot and now am craving a slow cooked roast. So, question, what is head cheese? That creeps me out more than tongue :)


Christina Lornemark from Sweden on September 21, 2011:

What a great way to write an informative and useful hub on this subject! I must admit that I am not so good at this although I love meat. My husband is on the other side very good at it, so it goes well anyway:) But if I have to shop some meat I know better now:) Thanks!


Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on September 20, 2011:

Great idea for a hub very informative and useful

I remember my Grandmother used to eat tongue.

Is the Porterhouse steak the same as sirloin steaks?

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 20, 2011:

Wow! Deer, Elk, Kangaroo! We just keep on learning with this hub!! Bring it on meat lovers!! Very interesting!!

Glyn on September 20, 2011:

Another interesting hub Sunshine. I bet there is one thing that your butcher has not had to cut or prepare in his life, that we (or I) quite often have. Yeah...the humble Kanga! (Kangaroo for those not into Aussie lingo) Their meat is one of the lowest in fat. Being one of a large family, Roo was part of our families diet. In plague proportions they are harvested and farmed. Yes...I have eaten the Australian national icon. But you can keep your tongue (Ewwwwwww) to yourselves thanks!! Voted up!!! xox

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 20, 2011:

Great idea for a hub! Thanks for the information.

Tammy on September 20, 2011:

Terrific hub Sunshine! I grew up butchering and processing our own meat (deer, elk, and such). I didn't know what beef was till I was about five years old. Maybe that was why I could come up with some interesting ideas for Fletcher's challenge...Uses for liver and other organ meats. (Most were coming up with recipes, I came up with games...LOL!) Ok, so I have a bit of redneck in me. I found your hub an enjoyable read that brought back memories. Tell your hubby congrats on 47 years. Thanks!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 20, 2011:

Lol Susie! Cute rhyme :))

SusieQ42 on September 20, 2011:

Thank you for informing us about our meat that we eat, it sure can't be beat! Isn't that neat??? No, really, I don't wanna be a meat cutter! It takes too much patience. Plus, I'd probably cut my finger off...I know I would. (or maybe someone elses!) Have a great Sunshineee day!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 20, 2011:

The butcher says you are very welcome Barbara :))

Barbara Turpin from N. California on September 20, 2011:

Quite an education I got today! (I wish I knew a 'lady of the night' !!!) I'm amazed at the ham part....although I know a 'ham' that IS the FULL hind end of a PIG!!

I've been making the right steak choices!!!!!! it's a miracle!! I, given MY choice, will only eat filet or porterhouse. Bad part of porterhouse, ya can't always find 'em. Most people don't 'understand' that cut, so it's not often bought, which means...less available :(

TONGUE!!!! eeewwwwwww! When I was young, my mother cooked and then SERVED looking like a TONGUE. Pale looking, bumpy and laid out! yuck-0.

My Godson is Mexican, they eat lingua a lot. I don't even wanna hear that word ~ in ANY language. My husband? He FINDS it, every Tacquèria we go to!! YUCK-0!!!

Voted up, and everything but beautiful - cuz tongue is UGLY!

Thanks for giving me part of today's education. Tell your butcher buddy I said "Thank you!!"

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 20, 2011:

I have more interviews coming up soon, I hope you enjoy them also. No greengrocer or fishmonger...sorry MM! Thank you for the comments :))

Movie Master from United Kingdom on September 20, 2011:

Hi Sunshine, I think this was a brilliant idea for a hub, I have thorougly enjoyed reading it, I didn't know that ham was the hind leg of a pig!

And I didn't know your hubby is a butcher! I hope you are going to follow on from this hub and hopefully you have a greengrocer, fishmonger etc in the family!

Voting up

Mentalist acer from A Voice in your Mind! on September 20, 2011:

Beef Tongue Is Also A Cajun Delicacy...Thanks For Sharing Linda.;)

Louise from Calgary, AB, Canada on September 20, 2011:

Hi Sunshine,

As you know, I am a big fan of MEAT so enjoyed your hub very much! Now that I know your husband is a butcher I may fire some meat-related questions your way LOL :-)

Voting up.... and.... VERY INTERESTING!


geegee77 from The Lone Star State!! on September 20, 2011:

Wow that was pretty interesting sunshine, i have to say my fav part of that cow is the brisket yummy!!, and it's true we mexicans love that tongue (except for me, ew), I remember my dad loved it, my mom would slice it up and make tacos with it but I never would try it cuz I was grossed out, who knows it's probably delicious. Anyway great hub as usual:) ge

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on September 20, 2011:

Sunshine.. this was such a good idea. wish I had thought of it first... :) Frank

danielleantosz from Florida on September 19, 2011:

Great interview and Go Noles! I am also a FSU alumni.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on September 19, 2011:

Fascinating although I must admit I was just a bit disappointed, Sunshine. Here I thought you were following my lead and interviewing Jack. See "Interview with Jack Ripper."

Enjoyed it nevertheless.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 19, 2011:

Hi marellen...I'm more picky then my butcher! :)

marellen on September 19, 2011:

A good friend of the family was a butcher and he was sure hard to please when eating out. But he knew everything there was about a good piece of meat and had some good recipes.

Thanks Sunshine for all the informative and helpful hub.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 19, 2011:

The Milk Man...I'll still interview you even if your profession doesn't exist anymore! :)

Cogerson...The Butcher says "never" with the customer orientated grocery chains. Thanks!

Mich....I AGREE :))

Mich S on September 19, 2011:

Very interesting!!! I could never be a butcher, but I'm sure glad that they exist! and I'm sure glad that we have one in the family! :)

UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on September 19, 2011:

Great hub with some great insight into the grocery business and meat business. 47 years is an impressive amount of time being a butcher(I kinda figured it was Dave you were interviewing)....I am impressed. You also showed some great interviewing skills....I like this concept..but I do have one question for the long before all beef will be cut and at a warehouse....gassed and then shipped to the store....10 years? twenty years?.....keep up the good work.

The Milk Man on September 19, 2011:

Great hub! I wish my profession was still around so I could be interviewed by Sunshine. Vote up!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 19, 2011:

Thanks for stopping by and sharing the wonderful Michael Landon hub Reynold!!! :)

Leroy!! Thank you for sharing your tongue story! Awesome!! Lol I'm learning even more!! Ugh I can't imagine tongue as a meal no matter what it was called!! Voted Up to you :)

Brian L. Powell from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff) on September 19, 2011:


Great Hub. Just one thing, the tongue is served around here in Traditional Mexican restaurants. It is called lingua. A lot of people (non Hispanics) don't realize what they are ordering. I must admit that when I have the opportunity, I never say what it is until they have almost finished the meal.

Lingua tastes great and is very tender; but, most of my friends cannot get over the fact that it is a tongue.

Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on September 19, 2011:

OK this is what I have been wait'n for and pretty much answered all myquestions. Unique subject and great for carreers class. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. I must give this an “Up ONE and awesome.” I'm always your fan! RJ

Based upon your HUB, you might enjoy this HUB…

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 19, 2011:

Thank you September Girl, it's always nice to hear I taught someone something new :))

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 19, 2011:

Hi Susan, that practice is possible but highly illegal. Thanks for sharing that info!!

september girl on September 19, 2011:

I feel so much smarter now, Sunshine625. Thank you for asking the butcher these important questions and sharing his answers with us. : ) I'm not much of a meat eater, but it was interesting just the same and useful. Voted up and in these categories.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on September 19, 2011:

I once knew a man that was a butcher and he told me that in order to make more money on a roast of beef he would inject it with water to make it heavier. Not really sure if he was just pulling my leg or not but at the time I believed him. Interesting hub and I enjoyed it.

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