CLAYTON HEIGHTS – I was three minutes late and the Meat Man was worried I had forgotten about him.
"Hey Beau, you’re here! Help yourself to a drink from the cooler. I’ll be right out," said the Meat Man. He was in the kitchen washing his hands after finishing a batch of his famous spicy hamburger patties.
I had only met the Meat Man a few times before but as I waited for him in his Clayton Heights shop on Thursday, it didn’t feel like I was meeting someone for an interview.
Somehow, it felt like I was visiting an old friend. And that’s exactly how the Meat Man wants his customers to feel.
"Since I have been open, a lot of my customers have become my friends," he said, handing me a cup of coffee. "They even invite us over to their house for Christmas. It’s a good feeling."
The Meat Man opened his store on 188th Street just north of Fraser Highway in 2011 and has since become somewhat of a celebrity in the community.
"When people see me, they say, ‘Hey, it’s the Meat Man,’" he said. "I don’t think anybody knows my name."
His name is Karm Sidhu. A certified home inspector, Sidhu became the Meat Man four years ago after a leg injury requiring 13 surgeries made it too difficult for that line of work.
"It made me start thinking that I need to plan my future," he said.
And it didn’t take long for Sidhu to discover that he loved being the Meat Man.
"I don’t have any kids but this has been like my kid. I put all my time into it. I’m here all day long and eventually as it starts growing, it’s going to start walking on its own."
And being the Meat Man isn’t easy – when he says he’s at his store all day long, he means all day long. His days start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 10:30 p.m. An early day for him – usually a Sunday – means he can leave the store at 8:30 p.m. And holidays? They’re non-existent when you’re the Meat Man – but you won’t hear him complain.
"I’d rather be at my store," he said. "I love being at my store. I’m actually going to get a plaque for the wall that says ‘Home Sweet Home.’" And for his customers, it might not feel like home, but it sometimes feels like a party.
On a recent sunny day, about 15 customers came in at once. At some businesses, this might lead to impatient and grumpy customers. Not at the Meat Man.
"I introduced everyone to each other as I had my back to them cutting their steaks," he said, with a huge grin. "They’re all talking to each other, everyone was laughing. They looked like they were at a party in here.
"I called my mom and said that was the best feeling in the world."
With that, my time with the Meat Man was up. As I was walking back to the car, he opened the door and called out to me.
"Beau! You forgot your samosas," he yelled at me.
I went back and got them. He had warmed them while we chatted.
In the car, I took a bite. It was delicious.
You figure that one out.
Cooking tips from the Meat Man
When cooking meat in the oven, use parchment paper instead of tinfoil. The meat doesn’t stick and it helps keep the meat moist. "Always an easy cleanup."
. For all your cooking on the barbecue, keep the temperature between 300-400 degrees.. After cooking wings on the grill, put them in a bowl and cover for three or four minutes to prevent them from drying out.. When cooking steaks and ribs, always grill. Always. (Photo: GORD GOBLE)