A butcher/meat cutter is a person who prepares meat for consumption in retail businesses or shops. These workers must cut and trim large portions of meat from carcasses into portions that shoppers will want to buy. Butchers/meat cutters must be aware of safety and sanitary conditions, as requirements are typically set by government agencies. They should be able to prepare an attractive showcase of available cuts of meats, and they will be called on to provide customer service functions. Oftentimes, a consumer will ask a butcher how to prepare a certain cut of meat, so a knowledge of cooking meat is also helpful.
The work environment and schedule for a butcher/meat cutter depends on where they work, but hours usually are grocery store hours, which include nights and weekends, though not as much as, for example, a pharmacist in a grocery store.
Working conditions include being on their feet most of the day, lifting extremely heavy carcasses of animals, and handling sharp cutting tools and saws.
Most butchers are trained at grocery stores, but it is possible to become a master butcher. Becoming a master in this field requires many years of experience, as there are no formal education requirements. Some cooking schools offer courses in this field, but experience is what will make a butcher excel in his field.
A butcher must be able to deal with customers patiently and politely, and be willing to cut orders to a person's preference. Some people, for example, will order a roast but ask for it to be "butterfield," which is a special cut that allows the cook to fill a roast a certain way to ensure a particular presentation.
Butchers/meat cutters will often take orders over a phone, and sometimes these will be very large orders, such as for restaurants. They should learn to order according to past customers' needs and be able to keep a meat case full of what customers seek on a daily to weekly basis, including peak times such as turkeys for Thanksgivings and special roasts for holidays.
Butcher / Meat Cutter Tasks
- Prepare meat for weighing and packaging.
- Cut and process a variety of meat products.
- Clean the meat up by cutting the fat and unwanted parts.
- Keep an clean work area.