Pro­file An­thony Puharich

The former mer­chant banker could not deny be­ing a butcher was in his DNA – and now he wants to take the mys­tery out of se­lect­ing and pre­par­ing meat, writes Deb­bie Schipp.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - CELEBRITY -

Tues­day, 8.30pm, Life­Style Food

AN­THONY Puharich took a while to come around to the pro­fes­sion that was in his genes.

As a teenager, af­ter show­ing prom­ise as a skier, he took time off school and headed to the US with dreams of mak­ing a ca­reer out of snow-ski­ing.

Six months later, Puharich re­turned to Syd­ney, and the home of his Croa­t­ian-born mi­grant par­ents, broke and ‘‘with my tail be­tween my legs’’.

His Dad, Vic­tor, was a fourth­gen­er­a­tion butcher, but Puharich, now the star of Foxtel food show Ask The

Butcher, says his par­ents wanted ‘‘some­thing more’’ for their son.

‘‘Like most mi­grant fam­i­lies, they wanted their kids not to fol­low in their foot­steps.’’

So Puharich com­pleted an eco­nom­ics and fi­nance de­gree and broke free of fam­ily tra­di­tion, be­com­ing a white-col­lar worker.

‘‘I was the first one in the fam­ily to go to work in a suit and tie,’’ the 39-year-old says.

But it wasn’t be­fore too long that he re­alised the suit wasn’t sit­ting well on him.

‘‘We were ap­proached by a pro­duc­tion com­pany who had heard about the busi­ness, the fam­ily his­tory, the store and the app, so we shot a pi­lot. It was shown to Foxtel and they picked it up’’

‘‘I’d ma­tured a hell of a lot, and I looked at my dad and heard ev­ery­one talk so highly of his work ethic and knew there was a way to com­bine our skills set – my com­mer­cial and busi­ness and his skills as a butcher, so I turned my back on mer­chant bank­ing.’’

The duo teamed up in 1996 to cre­ate Vic’s Meat.

‘‘I taught him how to spend money and he taught me ev­ery­thing about be­ing a butcher,’’ Puharich laughs.

‘‘It felt right to be work­ing in a busi­ness that was in my DNA.’’

The busi­ness built a rep­u­ta­tion that soon led to it sup­ply­ing some of Syd­ney’s – and then the na­tion’s – best restau­rants.

In Septem­ber 2009 the busi­ness grew again, ex­pand­ing its pre­dom­i­nantly whole­sale fo­cus with the open­ing of its lux­u­ri­ous ‘look-atme’ re­tail store in Syd­ney’s posh sub­urb of Wool­lahra. By the end of that year, Puharich had also launched an iPhone app, Ask the Butcher.

‘‘For 15 years peo­ple had been ask­ing me ques­tions about what cuts of meat to use and what to cook, so we sum­marised them and an­swered them on the app,’’ says Puharich.

‘‘Peo­ple wanted to know more about the meat they were buy­ing and where it came from.’’

The Ask The Butcher tele­vi­sion show is ba­si­cally an ex­ten­sion of that.

‘‘We were ap­proached by a pro­duc­tion com­pany who had heard about the busi­ness, the fam­ily his­tory, the store and the app, so we shot a pi­lot. It was shown to Foxtel and they picked it up,’’ says Puharich.

Each episode of the six-part se­ries fo­cuses on a spe­cific style of meat.

Puharich says it’s car­ni­vore heaven.

‘‘Each show is a jour­ney of three dis­tinct com­po­nents,’’ he says.

‘‘First I travel to amaz­ing parts of Aus­tralia vis­it­ing the farm­ers that pro­duce this amaz­ing meat, talk to them about what they do and how they do it.

‘‘Then it’s back to Vic­tor Churchill to show peo­ple where the best cuts are, and why and when to use them.’’

Lastly, a well-re­garded chef picks their favourite cut and pre­pares it.

Pep­pered through­out are Puharich’s tips soaked up over a life­time on ev­ery­thing from how to sharpen a knife to sea­son­ing.

‘‘There’s a lot of smoke and mir­rors around meat and how to se­lect it. I’m aim­ing to take the mys­tery out of that.’’

CAR­NI­VORE HEAVEN: An­thony Puharich fo­cuses on a spe­cific style of meat each week.

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