I recently had the chance to speak with Jeffrey Orel, the owner of the new Denville Meat Shop, where I pick up my Bracco Farms CSA box every two weeks.
Denville Meat Shop is a store off the main street in Denville offering quality all-natural meats, fine cheese, imported condiments, GMO- and gluten-free breads and products, and certified organic local produce/dairy.
A quick peek into the meat coolers offers a glimpse of Orel’s passion about quality, dry-aged, prime meats. His are some of the most gorgeous cuts of meats I’ve encountered and the specialty items are world class and not typically available in most stores.
Orel took the time to tell me a bit about himself and the new store.
JERSEY BITES: When you were younger, how did you know that you wanted to be a chef?
JEFFREY OREL: I was always fascinated by food even at a very young age. I remember walking through my mother’s gardens with a salt and pepper shaker in the pocket on my OshKosh B’Gosh overalls, picking fresh vegetables and eating them.
Where else have you cooked in New Jersey?
I was the executive chef at The Madison Hotel which had Rod’s Steakhouse and I opened the Red Dog Tavern in the hotel, too. I was the consulting chef for Tierney’s Copperhouse in Fairfield and 3Forty Grill in Hoboken.
So you went from being a chef to owning an artisan meat shop—what drove you to that change?
We couldn’t get quality meats and such in my area, meaning dry-aged, prime, Piedmontese, etc. I also wanted a change in the quality of life a chef has, or lack thereof, without losing the ability to be creative, and so the meat shop was born.
What are some of the benefits of your chef background with this new venture?
It allows me to be creative with all of the ingredients we use. We offer catering, cooking classes, and we have a full line of chef-inspired prepared foods.
On a recent visit to the shop, I saw amazingly beautiful dry-aged meats. For readers not familiar with dry-aged meats, what warrants the splurge?
It’s considered a steak connoisseur’s steak. We age everything here at the store. The aging process forms a dry “skin” that encapsulates the beef and then the natural enzymes in the meat does its job by tenderizing the meat. The end result is a more tender, juicy, and flavorful cut of beef, there is nothing like a prime dry-aged rib eye.
I see you list some cooking classes on your website. When do you plan on starting those up?
Our first cooking class happened on August 7, and we had 16 people signed up. We’re excited to bring cooking classes to the shop. It gives our attendees a place to relax, have some wine, learn how to cook and have dinner in a comfortable setting.
You offer catering services including whole hog BBQ. How does that work? Do you come do the setup for the hosts?
We provide everything if needed to include butlered hors d’oeuvres, but most catering events are in-store pickup or an event where we set up on site and cook. We have a few options depending on what consumers are looking for.
Any other plans for the shop that you’d like to share with us?
I thought it was important to be different then a normal butcher shop. We locally source our meats and everything in the store is all natural, GMO/hormone/antibiotic free. We have personal relationships with all of our farmers and have been to their farms to inspect their papers, feed invoices, living conditions of the animals, cleanliness, etc. All of our beef is fresh hanging beef and never in cryovac until it is cut into steaks here at the store. Nothing in our store is ever gas flushed to preserve the redness of our meats.
Denville Meat Shop
28 Diamond Spring Road
Veronique Deblois, Food & Wine Chickie: Veronique is a food and wine writer based in Morris County. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews and insight into the travel industry of which she’s a 15-year veteran. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.