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.
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.