Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 20, 2012

Butchers enjoy preparing meat cuts for customers


TRAVERSE CITY — The daily grind isn't 9 to 5 drudgery for Mark Wilson and Leroy Rosinski.

Their grind is made fresh daily — as in ground beef, ground pork and fresh sausage.

"In a day and age when people talk about vegetables, I love to talk about meat," said Wilson, new owner of Maxbauer Specialty Meat Market in Traverse City.

In fact, Wilson's favorite subject is meat and how to prepare it.

"God made all the cows, my challenge is to see what I can do to make something different from the same piece of meat," said Wilson, who began cutting meat at the age of 15.

As a teen Wilson stocked shelves and bagged groceries at an IGA store in Gaylord until his mentor, Tom Shather, took him under his wing and taught him the ins and outs of butchering.

"My first steak was put out as a roast because it was cut so thick, there is a real talent to it," he said.

Rosinski, who runs the meat department at Burritt's Fresh Markets in Traverse City, started his career at the age of 13 by learning to make sausage at Pleva's Meat Market in Cedar.

He says it was there that he learned all the aspects of butchery, including catering to his customers needs.

"There is definitely an art to cutting a steak, presenting it; some are pretty as a picture," he said.

Bob Rodriguez, who teaches charcuterie or the process of preparing meat at Northwestern Michigan College's Great Lakes Culinary Institute, says meat cutting is not for everyone.

"The students either love it or they are totally grossed out," he said.

The chef instructor says he is one of those on the side of loving the process.

"There is something about processing a whole animal to the point that you see it in the store, the challenge in it," he said.

Wilson says he thrives on the challenge of providing a variety of quality products for his customers.

"It becomes this big puzzle, you can create anything you want," he said.

Wilson says the real key is being able to deal with unforeseen problems and making the best of them.

"We once had eight cases of mushrooms delivered. So what did we do, we made steak and mushroom sausage. And it was a hit," he said.

While Rosinski has worked most of his life in the meat business, Wilson says he has tried other career paths. "I tried to let my meat dreams die but I wanted my kids to see me doing something that I love. Meat is what I love," he said.