Kane Lutter worked in the meatworks for ten years, before working as a boner in a local butcher shop. He realised he enjoyed it and decided he’d like to own a butcher shop of his own. Now, he has not one, but two butcheries in the Scenic Rim. His shops — at Kalbar and Boonah — both have different clientele with one thing in common: they love quality meat. People travel from afar to purchase Kane’s meat, while locals can simply take a drive into town. Kane is passionate about the paddock-to-plate philosophy, and, of course, he loves his steak. (Facebook: The Butcher Co Kalbar)
When did you establish The Butcher Co?
The Butcher Co originally opened in 2012 at Aratula. That’s where I had my first store. We started from there, supplying with my own cattle, and then, two years later, the Kalbar store became available, so we thought we would take it over as well. I knew from the previous owners, years ago, the Kalbar store has always been a good butcher shop with lots of good, mainly local, clientele.
The Kalbar store is my main operation, where I do a lot of the production. We still do boning and such at the other shop, but not quite as much. The Kalbar shop is very good because we have so much room.
How do you go finding staff out here?
I was very lucky, because when I took over the Boonah store only a couple of months ago, I knew the boys. I went to school with them, and they were happy to stay on.
Is farming cattle in the family?
I grew up at Tarome, only nine kilometers from Aratula. We’ve always had cattle and small crops. We used to produce vegetables, but now, we mainly grow grain because I am looking into producing more of our own beef to put through the shop. Now that we have two shops … I was flat out keeping up with one shop, but now that there are two, I’d like to increase the volume of cattle to keep up.
What breed of cattle do you have?
They’re mainly Angus and Brangus. They’re from a pure-bred Angus bull bred with a Brangus cow. We’ve always had black cattle, ever since I was a young fella. My grandfather, he was a producer, and all of my uncles are producers. It is just natural to like cattle.
You also buy meat from champion steers, is that right?
Everyone loves to come and see the champions after you get them, and you can’t get any better meat. It is awesome. This meat [see the photos overleaf] comes from a champion steer that wasn’t quite two years old — they haven’t got their milk teeth yet. The cut is a rib fillet with the bone left on. We sell lots of them. We do dry-aged ones as well.
How do you dry-age your meat?
We hang the meat in the coldroom and we leave most of the outside on, so it just dries out on the outside. The minimum we do is twenty-one days. If someone wants one, we’ll bring it out of the coldroom. Dry-ageing it tightens the meat up. As it is drying, you are losing moisture and that is why it shrinks. I was talking to a chef about dry ageing and cryovacking, and he thinks dry-ageing is better. You get natural bacteria and it sets a nice hard crust on it. Also, if you are not a real good cook, it is easier to cook because you don’t stew it. A fresh piece of meat, if your BBQ isn’t hot enough, you’ll stew it. I am a really good steak cooker.
What do you sell in your shops?
We sell everything. We’re focused on beef, but our pork, as well. Our pork comes from Nuendorfs, which is only a stone’s throw from here, probably about five kilometres. They have a big piggery there, and we buy all of our pork from them. I wouldn’t buy it anywhere else because they are just awesome pigs. We make really good ham and bacon. You can see by the colour it is double smoked on the bones and the hocks. Our ham and bacon is a very big seller. We get people driving out from Brisbane on the weekends just to buy our bacon. Same as the cattle. All of the producers around here, they know what people expect and we get it. Our lamb comes from Warwick. There are a few producers around here, but not enough. We do about fifteen to twenty lambs every week, so it is hard to keep that supply up. You’d have to have probably a thousand sheep to keep that supply up.
Where did you learn your trade?
I was at the meatworks at Dinmore for ten years down there — boning and slicing, and I was on the kill floor. I’ve done the whole lot. Then, I came out to Kalbar and there was a butcher there that needed a boner. So, I came out there and I was doing the work of three people because butchers compared to meatworkers — boning speed is totally different. When you’re a butcher, you do cuts. It is totally different to when you’re breaking down a body. I can break one down faster than a butcher after ten years in the meatworks. After working there, I thought, ‘I like this. I want to own my own shop.’ So, I went from there.
Do you have a mentor?
My mum’s brothers — my uncles — they’re in pubs and hotels and that sort of thing. They’re big business men. They’ve given me bits of advice along the way. But, ever since I opened Aratula and saw how it went, and as the opportunities came along, I grabbed them. I am just ‘go go go’. If you don’t have that ‘go go go’, it won’t happen. That’s what I say. ‘You’ve got to go go go.’ I say it to the boys all of the time. ‘Come on. Let’s go.’ When I say that to them, they know I am joking, but they know I am serious at the same time. They’re really good. All of my staff are very good.
What is your favourite meat to cook?
Steak. I love BBQing steak on the grill in the Weber. I have owned about five Webers. I am using gas, but I am thinking about buying a charcoal one. I like the smoking idea. Everyone likes it, when you can see it from paddock to plate. Nothing better than that.