Choosing BC Foods For Your Plate Everyday: The Meat Addition

June 26, 2019

Choosing BC Foods For Your Plate Everyday: The Meat Addition

We’re exploring the easy choices that we can all make to support BC farmers, producers and processors year round. We’re setting out to answer the question:

What are the foods that you can buy 365 days a year that are grown, harvested or produced here in BC?

Meet Rick Dolman, Master Butcher and Centre of the Plate Category Specialist with Sysco Vancouver. We chatted with Rick in Port Coquitlam to get expert industry insight on decisions that everyone can make to Buy BC proteins.

Some background information before we talk local proteins.

Tell us about your passion for meat.

My passion is “gate to plate” – which is about knowing and tracking the path of the protein from the farmer to the restaurant plate. I get to know the farmers we work with locally so that I am confident in the product, the treatment of the animals and that the best in industry standards are being maintained throughout the supply chain. It’s about feeding people responsibly, using the whole animal and knowing my trade.

I started at the Olympic Meats Abattoir under the oak street bridge in 1979/80. I joined Canada Safeway until 1984 and had my own butcher shop from 1984-1991. Prior to joining the Sysco team, I was a territory manager for Intercity Packers working in all areas of the hotel, restaurant and institutional accounts. Currently, I also work with the curriculum and manual from TRU and work to help certify meat cutters in the Lower mainland area that have accredited hours to challenge the exam.

I am applying to be part of Team Canada Butchery and am hoping to compete in Sacremento in 2020 – in the World Butcher competition.

Your title is Centre of the Plate Specialist, what does that mean?

In foodservice, Centre of the Plate is the main ingredient that is the star of the plated dish and generally it refers to the main protein. It’s the most expensive item on the plate. For me, being a Centre of the Plate Specialist is about recommending the right cut of meat for the right dish.

What’s changing about your role as a Centre of the Plate Specialist as local becomes more important to customers?

As BC becomes more multi-ethnic, I’m excited about how many more cuts of beef and pork are regularly being used in cooking and that I can offer to restaurants. It’s exciting to be able to recommend more unique poultry because of the growing interest in global flavours.

I also think restaurants are starting to recognize meat producers and growing areas on menus to help educate consumers. I see “Fraser Valley Pork”, “63 Acres Beef” or “Rossdown Chicken” on menus way more often that I used to. I think this is a great way to show pride in our local industry and to get consumers or operators making gate to plate selections.

5 Made in BC Meats.

What are the main meats that as a restaurant or as a consumer people can buy from BC year round?

Beef and chicken are huge staples of the Canadian diet – both can be purchased locally from local farmers. In addition, pork, turkey and specialty poultry are all available locally grown. It’s about knowing where to buy it and what symbols to look for on the packaging.

Starting in beef, how can a consumer or restaurant be sure they are buying local beef?

There are outstanding beef producers across our province – much of that beef is processed in Alberta in Federal facilities. To buy 100% BC beef, the best way is to look for specific local farms because the beef must be processed in the provincially regulated facility.

The first one I love is Hopcott Meats in Pitt Meadows. The Hopcott family started raising beef cattle in the 1950s. Hopcott Beef is naturally raised with no hormones, steroids and antibiotics. Their commitment is to animal welfare and humane animal management – you can see the cattle on the family farm, right next to the store on Dewdney Truck Road. The cows are born on three different farms one in 100 and 150 Mile, one in Lumby and one in Merritt. They specialize in using the whole animal – it’s something that as a butcher, I’m committed to.

I’m also excited about 63 Acres who are based in Chilliwack Hank’s Grass Fed Beef in Abbotsford Again, this is premium beef raised without any added hormones or steroids. The cattle comes from family run BC farms and ranches in Southern BC. All the cattle is grass fed. All three of these producers inspire a huge amount of public trust through their transparency and their commitment to gate to plate.

How about Pork? How does someone ensure they are buying BC pork?

BC pork is only about 10% of the pork available in BC. There are great producers in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and in the Peace River. All BC pork is raised on family farms. There are some great new cuts of pork that people are talking about and using more widely. Think pork belly – it’s the latest candy for chefs – or pork shoulder for (pulled pork) and (the very tasty capicolli).

Johnston’s in Chilliwack, Gelderman Farms Abbotsford and Shaw Family Farms in Aldergrove are great producers. Each takes great pride in upholding the highest standards in animal care and providing premium pork to BC customers. Johnston’s is fully vertically integrated and has a full processing facility on site.

Okay let’s talk poultry. You mentioned that chicken, turkey and specialty poultry are all available locally. Tell us about local poultry.

Chicken is a huge staple of Canadian diets. The Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island grow a lot of poultry of our market. Legally, no hormones or steroids are ever fed to BC chickens. That is a quality guarantee that is important to me. The big producers are Hallmark, Superior and Heritage. If you see those names either on a menu or in a grocery store, you are buying BC Chicken.

Rossdown Farms in Aldergrove is raising chicken and turkey without antibiotics. They offer farm-fresh and organic options and are proud to be truly traceable from farm to plate. I’ve been excited to be getting to know these folks more over the last year and am excited that restaurants are starting to get behind the raised without antibiotics products.

Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry in Yarrow has duck, Asian Chicken, squab and goose. They offer poultry and cuts that are targeted for the strong Asian food market in BC. Because some of this poultry is very specialty, you may only be able to buy it frozen at some times of the year – but it is available year round. [Note: EatDrinkLocal is excited that FVSP recently received funding from BuyBC to promote their unique poultry offerings.]

So buying BC meat is about being educated and looking for the right information on a label or a menu?

It’s definitely about knowing what brands and regions to look for. But as more customers demand it, the education and labeling is out that and it’s a great quality choice to make.

Buy BC: Eat Drink Local thanks Sysco Vancouver and Rick Dolman for meeting with us and giving us insight on available local proteins.


Subscribe to the Buy BC: EAT DRINK LOCAL Newsletter

Get your tummy growling and hungry, ready to explore #BuyBC #EatDrinkLocal venues that proudly serve and sell BC food.