In the Know

Meat Men

“Meat is like looking at anything else. You learn how to choose it: from good to great to amazing.” —Pat LaFrieda Jr.

Photograph by Danny Inglewood

Grass to grill, Old Homestead beef is top grade.

By Jen Karetnick

Pat LaFrieda Jr. is a third-generation butcher whose family has been in the business for more than 90 years. He started working at Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyor at age 10, and after taking the reins in adulthood, he turned the five-employee operation into a nationally renowned brand with more than 600 restaurants clamoring for the company’s hand-selected products.

But his father never wanted him to take up the cleaver. And he doesn’t want his own son in the business of band saws and blood either. “I’d like him to be a lawyer maybe, or a doctor,” he says.

His son could do worse than to stay with Pat Jr., who, with his Food Network reality show, Meat Men, is something of a slaughterhouse celebrity. Nicknamed “the Magician of Meat” by New York magazine, he oversees 20 butchers. They handle the beef that chefs from Manhattan to Miami—and now, Las Vegas—put on their tables.

“Meat is like looking at anything else,” he observes. “You learn how to choose it: from good to great to amazing.” Pat Jr. deals with beef raised only on family farms where the animals are fed grass for the first 85 percent of their lives, then fattened up quickly with all-natural grain. Next, the beef is sent to Kansas for butchering at a plant endorsed by Temple Grandin, a leader in the fight for the ethical treatment of animals. “We have the same people cutting the meat every week,” Pat Jr. explains. “The consistency is important. It’s what makes for a high-standard cut.”

For two West Coast locations that boast such a celebrated, quality product—Old Homestead Steakhouse at Caesars Palace and Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas—Pat Jr. personally chooses the best-of-the-best to send.

“It’s like looking at diamonds. I check for cut, color, quality. The most important thing is the marbling, the internal muscular fat. It should have a white, flaking effect. Internal fat in the muscle is what gives you the flavor.”

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