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“It’s definitely an art,” Ottawa born Andrew Muckleston explains to me.
Muckleston has been cultivating the classic craft of butchery for decades, carving out new ideas to express his creativity.
Muckleston was cast into a creative mindset from an early age by supportive parents who also saw the independent entrepreneurial spirit within him.
When I first moseyed through Muckleston & Brockwell’s doors at 127 Beechwood Ave., I was surprised by the ambiance. I had expected the cold murderous smell of meat and the dry expressionless face waiting for you to ask what you need, and get out. This wasn’t the case at all. The art form was visible even through the service and the shop itself. Everything glowed of quality in a rustic and royal fashion.
A friendly Ottawa Valley accent reeled me in closer to an easy going over-the-counter conversation, as I looked up at the glistening chandelier. The relaxed, but professional feel gave me the confidence to ask Muckleston where he procured his meat from and the inspiration for what he does.
He personally selected his beef from Enright Cattle Company, a family-owned, third-generation farm whose trustworthy philosophy is built on quality and exceptional animal welfare practices.
“This was my dream from the start, and I want to show that passion to my customers”, he said. Muckleston remembers working two jobs and the steep learning curve.
It was clear now that I wasn’t just supporting the design or best practices of a place, but also the people who inspire us, and their values.
Andrew also has a line of sauces (Andy the Butcher) whose flavours and versatility are incredible. Great ideas seem to percolate through him like the Happy Goat Coffee in the storefront, but I promised the meat maverick that I wouldn’t divulge his up-and-coming creations.
While I was chatting away with Andrew, in walked one Sylvain Hotte, a stout, middle-aged man with a genuine smile. Andrew introduced us, and explained that Hotte’s mother was born in the house that’s now Muckleston & Brockwell. Hotte smiles as he looks back on helping his father shovel coal into the basement stove as a kid. “After I helped him put coal into the stove, I remember my father winking at me and then taking a shot of booze,” Hotte recalled.
People came in shaking hands, exchanging goods and some just to chat. Being a part of the community is a sentiment put into practice at Muckleston & Brockwell: the echo of a time that brought people together is built into its foundation.
I asked Andrew what his favourite cut of beef was while eyeing the variety. “I like the uncommon cuts like hanger, skirt, flat iron, and spider steaks”, he said with certainty.
You can get whatever it is you’re looking for at the fine butchery, even a chuckle: in this case, the awkwardly uncomfortable chuckle that only the gritty raw realness of sheep testicles for sale can bring to a place.
There was no need for a conversation piece in the shop, yet every single thing seemingly held a story. If you’re hurrying to find a gift idea for a friend or loved one this holiday season, nothing brings people together like food around a fire. Enjoy a candle lit dinner with the help of Muckleston & Brockwell. They also have gift cards to make the stocking stuffing a little more sanitary.