When Chef Paul Griffith needs a good steak, he goes to Land and Sea Emporium, a butcher shop in unincorporated Miami-Dade, between South Miami and Pinecrest.
Griffith, a private chef who has clients in Coral Gables, has been calling in his orders ahead of time since the shop opened in July.
One of my clients recommended him. I come here three to four times a week. He takes care of you, said Griffith, who is the former chef de cuisine at the Sagamore in New York City. I have a very demanding clientele and a flavorful dish needs good ingredients.
Marlon Lai Fang, who co-owns the shop at 6655 S. Dixie Hwy., double checks the product is cut correctly and check-marks the list, as he puts the wrapped products in a white plastic bag. Griffith swings in and out of the shop in minutes.
When you understand that your mistakes could impact your clients business, you want to make sure that every detail is perfect, said Lai Fang. Some chefs dont know how to cut meat properly. so we do it for them.
The seafood selection is seasonal. Lai Fang goes to the market, and he and the Master Butcher Eduardo Rubi filet all the fish by hand.
I go to three to four different places for sea food. I dont buy an abundance of it. I look for freshness and focus on high quality, Lai Fang said. The presentation for sea food is fun, because you can add curves and make designs.
The shop also offers specialty products such as macaroni and lobster for $11, poached salmon salad for $13, pre-cut seasoned skirt beef marinated with chimichurri sauce for $13 a pound, sirloin kebabs marinated in Kentucky bourbon sauce for $9 a pound, Cornish hens for $8 a piece, and gluten-free breaded chicken for $7 to $9. The beef selection includes Australian Wagyu beef for $27 a pound.
Kobe beef from Japan is illegal in the U.S. It is a delicacy because its tender and juicy, Lai Fang said. A golfer named Greg Norman produces this high-quality style Wagyu beef in a farm in Australia. The cattle are raised on beer, and it is actually someones job to massage it.
Rubi, who greets costumers with a smile, left a job with Fresh Market to work at Land and Sea Emporium. He said he loves working for Lai Fang.
Big supermarkets caused butcher shops to close, but I think consumers are finding out that they are saving time and money but sacrificing quality, said Rubi, 60. At a shop like this, you develop relationships with your clients and give them attention and good service.
Lai Fang, now 46, worked as a butcher at a supermarket when he was 19. His parents are from Trinidad and Tobago. The meat cutters union helped him pay for his computer science degree at Queens College in New York. And he moved to Tampa to work as a network engineer for JP Morgan Chase.
But then the economy took a bad turn, and he and his wife were laid off. The couple has a 14-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. Lai Fang decided it was time to open his first business. He, his wife and brother invested about $250,000 of their life savings on the shop.
I had a vision. Every detail in this room was carefully thought out. One of the reasons why we picked this location was that there is ample parking, Lai Fang said.
The shop also delivers sandwiches and other lunch items. Lai Fang also plans to offer a selection of kosher products next month.
Im working very hard from 6:30 in the morning to 11 at night, so that I can make sure that every customer is satisfied, Lai Fang said. Word of mouth is our form of advertising and its working. My goal is to open another shop like this one in Miami.