In Conversation with Alec Watson & Son Butchers

In Conversation with Alec Watson & Son Butchers

We sat down with the passionate butcher, Mick, to find out more about Alec Watson & Sons. Mick has been a butcher at Alec Watson & Sons for over 10 years, with nearly a quarter-century spent in the market.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and Alec Watson & Sons Butchers?   

“I’m Mick, one of the butchers at Alec Watson & Sons. Our story stretches back to the mid-’70s when Michael and Stephen, the current owners, took the reins from their father, purchasing the business from Alec Watson. 

We’re all about honouring tradition while offering a taste of Italy right here in Australia, including our renowned sausages and cotechino—a delicacy from Italy, still made to the original recipe crafted by Michael and Stephen’s father. Our porchetta roast, seasoned in-house, is a constant hit, often flying off the shelves. 

What sets us apart is our dedication to quality and customer satisfaction. We’re more than just butchers; we’re advisors, willing to bend over backward to meet our customers’ needs. Whether it’s personalised cuts or expert advice, we’re here to ensure every visit is a memorable one. And with four varieties of Italian sausages, including classic fennel and a fiery hot and spicy option, there’s something to tantalise every palate.” 

How did you and your family get into the butcher business?  

“Our journey into the butcher business is deeply rooted in family tradition, spanning generations. We’re proud to say that Alec Watson & Sons remains a family-run establishment, passed down through the years. 

It all started with Robert, the father of Michael and Stephen, who immigrated from Italy in the 1960s. Back in Italy, he honoured his skills as a butcher, carrying on the family legacy of craftsmanship and dedication to quality. When he arrived in Australia, he brought with him his passion for butchery, laying the foundation for what would become Alec Watson & Sons. Since then, the torch has been passed to Michael and Stephen, who have upheld the family tradition.” 

Can you describe your sourcing process for meat products? 

“We work closely with a small abattoir based in Geelong. They’re our go-to for beef and lamb, sourcing directly from select farmers scattered across the Otway regions to the western districts. These districts are known for their stunning green, leafy pastures, the quality of the meat is always top-notch, guaranteed.” 

What sets Alec Watson & Sons apart from other meat suppliers? 

“We definitely prioritise customer service and satisfaction. But what really sets us apart is our commitment to quality. We’re willing to invest a bit more in sourcing our stock to ensure it’s always top quality. That means you might find our prices a tad higher compared to some other butchers, but it’s all about delivering premium products you can count on.” 

Do you have any recommendations on what customers should be looking out for seasonally? 

“Throughout the seasons, our butcher shop offers tailored recommendations to suit every palate. Summer calls for BBQ staples like sausages, steaks, and burgers, perfect for outdoor gatherings. When winter arrives, it’s all about hearty casserole meats such as Ossobuco, Chuck steak, and gravy beef, ideal for slow cooking to warm the soul. Recent hits like corned beef add flavor to any meal. For those seeking culinary adventures, our selection includes versatile options like pig head, utilised differently across various cuisines—from Italian Guanciale to Asian-inspired dishes and slow-roasted delicacies in New Zealand. Plus, with the growing trend of smokers, our pickle pork provides an easy way to create artisanal ham at home.” 

How do you suggest customers prepare different types of meat for optimal flavor and tenderness? 

“I always tell customers that bringing meat to room temperature is key, along with preheating the oven. And after cooking, especially with roasts and steaks, the resting process is crucial. 

Now, when it comes to achieving the perfect pork crackling, here’s the trick: Dry it out for at least 48 hours. Rub it with salt, then let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight. The next morning, pat it down with paper towels, re-salt, and leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight again. When you’re ready to cook, bring it to room temperature. By then, the crackling will be almost rock hard—100% foolproof, guaranteed.” 

Are there any particular seasons or times of the year when you see increased demand for specific types of meat?  

“Throughout the year, different seasons bring varying demands for specific meats. Christmas sees a surge in pork roast orders, while mid-September to early October marks the peak for spring lamb sales. In the warmer months, marinated diced pork for barbecues and salads become popular choices. As winter sets in, hearty meals make pork an ideal option, whether as roasts or diced pieces, often paired with salads or vegetables on the side. 

My favorite cut has to be the rib eye steak. We take pride in aging them for a minimum of 14 days, resulting in what we believe is the best steak you’ll ever eat. It’s a level of quality you won’t often find at restaurants, simply because they’re not willing to invest in that kind of aging process. But here, it’s incredibly popular, and once you try it, you’ll understand why. 

A family classic that we recommend is either roast pork or roast beef. Can’t go wrong!” 

What do you love most about being a trader at Queen Victoria Market? 

“What’s not to love about being a trader at Queen Victoria Market? I’ve been here for over 25 years, so it’s like my second home. I know everyone, every shop, and it feels like a big family. Walking around, I can greet everyone by name—it’s that close-knit. We’re not just colleagues; we’re good mates, sharing not just work but also bits of our lives outside of it.” 

“I also just wanted to add, I know times are tough financially at the moment with the cost of living, and everyone’s feeling the squeeze. But that’s exactly why coming to the market is so great. Here, you can always find a bargain, and everything is fresh and top quality. You have the freedom to pick and choose whatever you want. So, even when money’s tight, the market offers a little oasis where you can still enjoy the best without breaking the bank. I always urge people to come and experience the market for themselves.” 

Explore Alec Watson & Sons range of beef, lamb and port at Queen Victoria Market on Tuesday and Thursday through to Sunday in the Meat and Fish Hall, shop 41 or online here

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