Not everyone with the last name Metzger (“butcher” in German) grows up to become a world-renowned expert in meat, but Olivier earned his name just as much as he inherited it. The fourth-generation butcher from Paris follows in the footsteps of his forefathers in purveying the world’s best beef for top chefs and restaurants. He also happens to be our Head of Product Experience!
Back in the early aughts, Olivier became the first to ever import premium beef into France, an agricultural powerhouse that takes pride in its cuisine. “I wanted to connect diners with new flavors they didn’t know before,” he explained.
Over a video call and with a thick French accent and high energy, Olivier cuts to the chase about what quality meat means for him. Decide for yourself if it’s more his charm or his knowledge that led him to be crowned as a ‘Parisian Meat God’ in a Tumblr post back in 2013.
How do you like your steak? Any special furnishings?
Fries are for the kids table, veggies are for the animals, and ketchup… ketchup is an abomination. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that meat is meat and that’s all there is to it. My approach depends on the cut. With Limousin or Flap, I eat it red. With Black angus prime or tenderloin, well done. If I’m in Tokyo, I’m all about Sukiyaki.
What’s your all-time favorite meal?
Rib-eye steak from an old cow (8-10 years).
Where in the world do you most enjoy eating?
Wow. There are so many great places. I’d have to say Tokyo. And Spain – Barcelona and Madrid are both fantastic. Singapore also. The place is a bastion of high-quality cuisine. I recently ate sole there that was so good – I had tears of joy.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I put in too many hours to be one or the other. 24/7!
Which is more important for great food: quality ingredients or talent in the kitchen?
I meet a lot of people – butchers, chefs, diners and others – who are in search of some holy grail. I admire their hustle, but sometimes their fear of being ordinary makes them over complicate their dishes, as if this extra furnishing or that extra ingredient will put them over the top.
If you’re pursuing greatness, focus on the elegant and the simple. If the quality is high, don’t overdo or overthink it. Focus on quality ingredients and you’re 90% of the way there.
Food is just as much about the experience that comes out of it as the ingredients that go into it. What can producers do to make the eating experience better for diners?
My grandfather and grandmother were familiar with each and every animal they raised, slaughtered, cooked and ate. Now, the first time most of us encounter the animal is when we open our menu. We used to know the animal. Now we know what we order.
The distance between the animal and the diners pushes quality to the side, in favor of convenience. As the quality of beef goes down, so does our knowledge about beef. At a certain point, some of us pass on steaks and settle for a burger.
No matter what, remember that we all share the desire to connect to what we’re eating, to nature and to each other. Understanding this desire is key for creating powerful experiences through food.