Michael Dulock grew up just up the road in Everett in his family’s wholesale seafood business. At the time, he never dreamed he’d own his own business in Somerville … or that he’d become a butcher. But he’s poised to do both, and do them well, when he opens M.F. Dulock, a pasture-raised whole animal butchery, at 201a Highland Ave. later this summer.
After looking all over town for the right location for his business, he settled on Somerville where the rent was still affordable and the people are passionate about food.
“Somerville has really changed. I’m almost 40 years old, so when I grew up here, Somerville was a very different place.” Now Dulock says, “Somerville is kind of cool.”
While it may not be a career path he originally thought about, Dulock now speaks the language of butchery so fluidly that you can’t imagine him doing anything else. He was thrust into the role at his former store, Concord Prime & Fish, which he recently shuttered to move his business to Somerville.
Dulock opened that shop four years ago to sell fish, but quickly realized the vast space needed something more. So he added a butchery, selling USDA prime meat and pasture-raised meat. He hired an up-and-coming butcher who eventually left for other opportunities, leaving Dulock in the hot seat.
“I’m a butcher by chance,” Dulock said. “I got catapulted into being a butcher.”
And now being a butcher is Dulock’s passion. He speaks animatedly about helping people choose the best cuts of meat for whatever dish they want to prepare as well as ensuring that the animals he receives have been treated humanely and are not fed antibiotics or hormones.
“I want animals that are free to roam. I want to see that the animals can tear up the ground,” Dulock said. “Cows should never be mooing. A quiet cow is a happy cow.”
And Dulock will often know whether the cows, pigs, lambs or goats he butchers were mooing or not as he frequently visits the regional farms he buys animals from. All of the animals Dulock buys come to him whole from farms around New England and he processes the animal in his store.
“We can offer more unique cuts of meat,” Dulock said. “If I run out of tenderloin, I’m out until I get another whole animal. But we can substitute another cut of meat. As a true butcher shop, you can get anything you need.”
Dulock encourages home cooks to bring their favorite recipes and cookbooks to the store so that he and his employees can help figure out what piece of meat is the best for the task at hand. Many of the people who worked with him at his Concord store are coming with him to Somerville and all of them will know the source of the meat for sale at the shop and be able to speak about it.
The butchery won’t have any groceries, as Dulock knows that there are already several speciality shops in the area that cater to those needs. But his store will have a D.I.Y. charcuterie section with special casings, salts and the like for those who want to make their own sausage.
“The only way I can stand apart is to do something different,” Dulock said.
And different he is. Would you expect your local butcher to recommend that you only eat meat a few times per week? Well, that’s exactly what Dulock promotes.
“We eat the king’s bounty every day,” Dulock said. “I want happy, healthy customers. We need to find ways to show people that you can eat meat and still be healthy.”
To that end, Dulock recommends eating modest portions of good-quality meat. His shop’s prices will be comparable to Whole Foods, but Dulock says the extra cost is worth it to eat better quality, fresh, locally raised meat more sparingly.
“We’re selling more than meat, we’re selling the experience,” Dulock said. “What we build in our store is a sense of community. It comes down to the experience, being friendly and knowledgable. The customers come to know that my word is good.”
M.F. Dulock Pasture-Raised Meats
201a Highland Ave.
Opening late summer 2012