Mr. October 2016 Perry Hallgren
Acme Meat Market in Edmonton’s Ritchie neighbourhood has the distinction of being the first place to have two Sexy Men of YEG Food. Owner Corey Meyer was 2015’s Mr January and now butcher Perry Hallgren made the cut as 2016’s Mr. September.
Check out how he describes the experience and gives a little advice on saving money while eating well.
1. Why participate in the YEG Sexy calendar for Edmonton’s Food Bank?
Last year, my boss Corey Meyer represented his shop in the first YEG Sexy calendar and we noticed how much his newfound fame went to his head. I figured somebody had to knock him down a peg. In all honesty though, participating in the calendar seemed like an exciting, hilarious way to help out the food bank during a time of need.
2. How much did you know about the Food Bank before becoming involved in the calendar?
I really didn’t know too much, aside from seeing donation boxes at grocery stores and some events. I had heard of the Edmonton Eskimos’ participation with the tackle hunger program. It wasn’t until I got involved this past year that I became aware of the incredible number of people that the food bank helps and the amount of donations that are needed in order for them to do so. [Edmonton’s Food Bank serves an average of 20,000 people through our hamper programs each month, 40% of whom are children. An increase of 5,000 per month in just the last year.]
3. Where was the picture taken? Describe the day.
As one can guess, this picture was taken in the meat cooler of Acme Meat Market. I’m not at all comfortable with this whole modelling thing, so I was thankful that it was friends of mine, Patrick Kerby and Bri Vos, behind the camera. Knowing that I wouldn’t be the only piece of meat hanging in the picture also allowed me to blend more naturally into my environment.
4. What is the best thing about your job?
I’ve loved learning the butcher trade itself. It’s taken almost a few years to finally begin to wrap my head around the art of it.
Without a doubt though, my favourite aspect of the job would have to be the people. Working for Corey and Amanda alongside the small crew we have is always a pleasure. I’ve made lasting friendships with those I’ve worked with and even with a number of customers who frequent the shop. The Ritchie community is full of friendly people and it’s been fun being a part of it.
Corey and Amanda Meyer, Owners of Acme Meat Market.
5. What are some things that might surprise people about you and/or the business?
I was surprised to learn that Acme is one of the city’s oldest operating businesses, founded in 1921. Some might also be surprised to learn that Acme Meat Market will be moving from the location that it’s existed in for over thirty years to a brand new location, though we’ll only be moving (literally) across the street, so not to fret. [Keep an eye out for Acme’s move to the new Ritchie Market coming soon!] **
6. How did you start working at Acme?
After finishing off an English and Music degree at the University of Alberta, I was eager to get away from the books and work with my hands for a bit. I was very lucky to get on with the small crew at Acme without any previous experience in the trade. I guess I “meshed” well with the group. I certainly was expected to work the front helping customers for the most part early on, but during any downtime Corey would always be happy to teach me anything I wanted to learn. I definitely feel fortunate to have learned from the very best in a third generation butcher. A few years into it, I finally feel comfortable calling myself a butcher.
7. What is the best advice about food you’ve ever been given?
Around the time I moved out of home and up to the city, I heard now and then that girls like a guy that can cook. This was probably a strong motivator. I do remember a particular butternut squash soup that paid dividends for me.
I also remember learning how much money you can save cooking for yourself, and how much better and healthier you eat when you do so. I find I enjoy and appreciate food even more when I cook it for myself.
8. Any tips for picking out good meat products? (especially for those on a budget?)
I’ve learned since I started at Acme that some of the tougher, fattier, and therefore less expensive meats, are often the most flavourful. Bone-in products often cost less and a lot of flavour comes from the bones. Obviously beef is the most expensive of our main local meats compared to chicken or pork, but when the red meat craving arises there are fairly affordable cuts to choose from. Chuck steaks or chuck roasts are moist and flavourful when braised slowly and a delicious meaty soup or stew could be made from beef shank.
That being said, pork is a much more affordable option regardless of the specific cut one chooses. I’m also happy eating chicken any day, but instead of shelling out on a lean chicken breast I almost always prefer a juicier, more flavourful thigh which can be cooked in a great variety of ways.
9. What is your earliest cooking or food memory?
Strangely enough, one of my first favourite foods and one that I feel sentimental about is pickled herring. When I was very young my grandma tried feeding me a chunk and found it hilarious when I couldn’t get enough of it. She’d always pull out a jar when I showed up after that.
10. What are your 5 favourite things about Edmonton? And why those things?
- I really appreciate the hardy attitude of the people in the city. It’s a hardworking town and people don’t let the winter climate keep them from getting out and about.
- The river valley and the river itself are a big draw for me. There are some beautiful places along this stretch and I think the river itself should be enjoyed by more people.
- I love the loyalty that sports fans have in this city. This loyalty to our major sports teams binds a large part of the community together.
- A big reason I chose to move to Edmonton to attend university was for the awesome music and arts scene that I had started to explore while visiting.
- Since starting at Acme and meeting more folks in the food industry, I must say that the food culture in Edmonton is very exciting and has been a thrill to be a part of.
Acme Meat Market’s focus is on quality products and personal customer service and advice. Visit their website for more information.