For 10 years, Sanagan's Meat Locker has proven itself to be Toronto's best-loved butcher's shop. From the beginning we have committed to sourcing all of our meat from small, family-run, Ontario farms, raised in the interest of health and flavour, and we're proud to have brought this consistently high-quality meat to our customers. Now, with our global climate crisis escalating to levels of ever-increasing concern, we must do our part to address our own environmental impact in any and every way possible.
Over the coming months, we will be overhauling a number of our practices in the name of becoming not just the leading purveyor of meats in the city, but also the most environmentally friendly butcher's shop here or indeed anywhere else. Some of these changes will take place gradually, others we intend to complete in a matter of weeks. Our long-term goal is to move away from as much single use packaging as possible, and in order to do this we are encouraging as many of our customers as possible to bring their own containers and shopping bags in order to drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste to which we're a contributor. As of January 1st 2020, we will be introducing charges for use of plastic grocery bags and increasing the price of our vac-pack bags. These charges reflect our costs, and the hope is that this move will encourage our customers to bring in their own reusable bags and containers.
As our business has grown this past decade, it's become clear our customers care deeply about the ethics and quality of their meat, and we are confident this passion will translate over to our upcoming changes.
Would you like to help support our friends at The Stop Community Food Hub this holiday season? It’s easy if you’re a member of the Sanagan’s 5 Star Rewards Points Program. For every 500 rewards points you chose to donate, Sanagans will donate $25 to The Stop. You give the points, we give the money. That's a lot of good will going around! !
You can make your points donation at either store, just ask a meat hawker. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org The email should include the phone number of your rewards account and the number of points (500 = $25, 1000 = $50, etc.) you wish to donate. Or give us a call at 416-593-9747 and talk to Customer Service. We will be accepting Rewards Points Donations all the way until December 31st.
To see what the Stop Community Food Hub does, go here https://www.thestop.org/
Everyone reading this newsletter knows that Peter Sanagan runs two butcher shops in Toronto. But, like any other reasonable, well-rounded person, he had a life before the meat business and continues to have a life in spite of it — a very busy ambitious life. Here are some excerpts from an interview I conducted with the boss regarding the latest installment in the life of Peter.
Graham: So Peter, how would you describe this new project.
Peter: laughs I think you can only describe it as a musical.
Graham: I think it’s safe to say that most people didn’t see that coming.
Peter: Oh, for sure but that’s what’s so fun, and frankly, therapeutic about it; it’s so far away from running two butcher shops.
Graham: So, is it like a traditional singing and dancing musical?
Peter: Yeah, I’m a big fan of the genre: Rodgers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Rent — all the greats.
Graham: Is this something you have a background in?
Peter: Well, before I got into food, I was a bit of a stage brat. As a kid I was in the touring version of the Polka Dot Door. I did a few commercials. Google https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz2ARTdaqE0 I was on my way to gaining admittance to the National Theatre School when I got a summer job at Licks, and then that was that. From there it was food all the way. But now I really need something other than work and family.
Graham: What’s it about?
Peter: It’s totally based around my experiences starting up a butcher shop in the market. In a lots of ways it’s about Kensington Market and so therefore about the city itself.
Graham: Wow. So what are some of the numbers?
Peter: Right off the top of my head? Long pause I Can See Myself In That Shop Window; Cows and Pigs and Chickens and Me; Help Wanted - Apply Within; Sing-agan’s…
Graham: That sounds like fun. Are you pitching this to any producers or theatre companies?
Peter: Oh it’s early days for that but The Ontario Cattle Breeders Association is on board.
Graham: Where do you envision staging it?
Peter: Well the truth of the matter is, we’ve got so many talented performers working here at Sanagan’s, that I think I might try doing it in-house. I mean, it’s like the shop is already a stage.
Graham: Does it have a name?
Peter: Oh that was easy. April Fools.
"So, I think I'm buying a butcher shop."
The summer of 2009 was a very different time in our lives, but I still remember the bar we were sitting in (each with our then-girlfriends/now-wives) when Peter told me his next move. He was moving away from restaurants and teaching at George Brown and heading into business for himself at the site of the old 'Max and Sons' butcher shop in Kensington Market. From the beginning Peter saw the opportunity to connect smaller Ontario farmers with consumers in Toronto. It was a risk then, but like the store on Gerrard St. (I'm bringing this all together here...) it pretty quickly became a fixture within the neighbourhood.
Though the move to Gerrard St. had a few parallels (smaller store, window display, more blending of front of house and butchery work), our 'new' space on Gerrard St. couldn't be more different than the original. With the experience we have running the Kensington Market stores, the opening and transition into being a two-location business has been (as far as these things go) pretty smooth. Sure, there were some construction delays and tense moments right before opening, and it's been a lot of work as we get off the ground in a new part of the city, and I probably shouldn't have ordered so much lamb for Easter last year while so few people knew we were even open...but I digress.
We want to use this anniversary as an opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to the tireless efforts of our staff (big shout outs to Cole, Scott, Sophie, Lester and Steven, all of whom were there from day one right through the first Christmas), the support of our neighbours (seriously, go check out Lazy Daisy's, Swag Sisters, The Pantry, Godspeed Brewery, Pizzeria via Mercanti, The Flying Pony, Glory Hole Doughnuts and all the other great neighbourhood shops!) and our incredible and loyal customers (both the group that has shopped with us in Kensington for years, and the group that is discovering us for the first time).
The Gerrard St. store has been a great opportunity for us in a number of ways. The greatest of these opportunities is that this store provides us the means to connect a new neighbourhood with the spectacular Ontario producers we work with. We truly believe that supporting local producers is not only better for our community as a whole, but that Ontario producers have some really kick-ass products, and that should be celebrated.
Please come down to the Gerrard St. store on Sunday, March 17th for some samples and anniversary specials. Thanks for a great first year Gerrard St!
2019 = Pig. Yay!
According to the Chinese astrological calendar, 2019 is the Year of the Pig. Now that’s a chronological event Sanagan’s can really get on board with. Our domestic and heritage breeds of pork, as well as wild boar will enhance any dishes you may be considering for your Chinese New Year feast.
Gwenyn Huang has only recently hung up her meat hawker apron at our Kensington store so she can dedicate more time to her studies in Literature at University of Toronto. We asked Gwenyn what pork the Huang family likes to prepare for Chinese New Year. Here, in her own literate words, Gwenyn outlines the preparation of pork belly fried in red wine dregs.
One of the many dishes we make in our family is pork belly fried in wine dregs. The wine dregs, which is the sediment left over from making Foochow red wine, is fermented and has a very strong flavour and is bright red. It dyes the pork bright red as well, which is why it's so appropriate for the new years. In China, red has always been a festive colour that symbolises fortune and prosperity.
Only a little is needed for any recipe since it's so pungent, which is good because it's hard to come by. (The real stuff is.) My family has a jar that we guard very jealously! But for special occasions as important as the New Year, possibly the biggest holiday in China, we bring it out for sure. But first, we heat a lot of oil and deep fry cubes of pork belly. Then we strain the lot and while the excess oil drips away from the pork, we heat a little bit of oil in a pan. We throw slices of ginger into the hot oil and let it crackle and then a heaping tablespoon (no skimping on New Years) of the wine dregs. We fry the wine dregs for a few seconds, carefully since it burns easily, and then toss in the pork belly. Once all the pork belly is coated and bright red, it's ready to go!
Thanks Gwenyn. When should we come over for dinner?