Cutting meat is one thing, honing it as your craft is another.
An Oshawa butcher spent months perfecting his meat-cutting skills, enough to win him the title of “Ontario’s Finest Butcher.”
It doesn’t matter what kind of meat, Nicholas Matusiak knows how to properly cut it.
The 34-year-old butcher has been cutting meat for nearly half his life and he loves it.
“It’s not work for me. I enjoy coming in and cutting meat,” said Matusiak, Halenda’s Meats’ head butcher and 2018 Ontario’s Finest Butcher.
Being a butcher is in his blood. As a kid, Matusiak and his family would visit his uncle, a butcher in Winnipeg and he was the first to show the Oshawa native the ropes.
“I just saw the guys working away when I was growing up and then when I got the opportunity, it was just meant to be,” said Matusiak.
Cutting meat could have been just a passion but last month, Matusiak showed that he’s more than good at his job — he’s the best in the province, slicing his way through the competition to become Ontario’s Finest Butcher.
“It just goes to show that after all these years of hard work and learning from other people that this is my diploma in meat-cutting,” said Matusiak.
“Butchery is a dying art really and we want to bring that back,” said Christine Hobson, Halenda’s Meats co-owner and Ontario Independent Meat Processors (OIMP) vice-president.
The competition started five years ago for fun but the Ontario Independent Meat Processors transformed it into a competition, recognizing the best in the province in the hopes of inspiring others to get into the industry.
“We feed people’s families. This is a job to be very proud of and there’s not a lot of schools that teach this right now. We’re working really hard as part of OIMP to bring that back,” said Hobson.
“Being a butcher is a really good job and the more you know, the more you’re worth. You don’t have to be a lawyer, you don’t have to be a doctor, become a butcher if you want. You like food? Learn how to cut meat,” said Matusiak.
After winning this year’s hunting-themed final 30-minute competition, Matusiak isn’t sure if he will take another stab at it next year.
“I’ve been telling my boss that I’m done with it but there’s something in the back of my head that’s itching away saying you can come back and defend it and become the champ, champ,” said Matusiak.