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The Man With the Meat


Posted on November 29

John Paul Khoury
John Paul Khoury Photo by Bruce Brown

As meat supplier to many of the region’s top restaurants—The Kitchen, Mulvaney’s Building & Loan and Slocum House, to name a few—John Paul Khoury has chef cred. A certified chef de cuisine, he worked in restaurants for 25 years. Now, as the corporate chef for Preferred Meats, a high-end meat distributorship, he often plays the role of educator, informing chefs about products and showingthem the ropes when it comes to preparing new (to them) meats. “Some chefs may be very accomplished but have never worked with, say, pork cheeks before,” says Khoury. “That’s where my expertise comes in.” Here, the Elk Grove resident and father of three talks shop:

It’s a niche business
“We’re not after everybody’s business. We’re after those who fit the niche of what we’re doing, with an emphasis on sustainability. We work with smaller farmers and put an emphasis on quality. You’re not gonna find Eden Farms Berkshire Pork on every table in America.”

Education extends beyond the chef
“Sometimes I educate the wait staff, and I’m often surprised by what they don’t know. I went in to educate a wait staff at a local restaurant and said, ‘Tell me about one of your wines.’ A couple of people rattled off the vintage and other nuances. Then I said, ‘Can anybody describe a Hereford steer for me?’ and I just got deer in the headlights. By the time we were done, they understood that there needed to be more focus on the proteins on the plate. Sometimes there’s a disconnect between the farm, the ranch and the dining experience.”

Like father, like son

“My boy is 6, and he’s become a little food snob. I put a slice of American cheese on a burger and he said, ‘Mom, Dad’s using that fake cheese again. Don’t we have any brie?’”

It’s a great gig
“I’ve gotta say, it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I’m going to be with a farmer next week, going around town—basically spending the whole day eating pork and meeting with chefs. After spending 25 years cooking on a line, paying my dues and working late nights, I finally have normal hours, and I’m still doing what I love.”

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