Meet the Meat Guys of Triple Fresh Market

In growing response to the impersonal era of food that is fast, mass produced and prepackaged, many are focusing their sights back on local. By supporting local, communities know they are supporting their own neighbors as well as their immediate economy. The journey to celebrate all things local embraces a quality that can only be found in the focus of a small business. And as you get to know local institutions, such as Triple Fresh, you’ll find iconic members of the community that provide quality, knowledge and attention to detail that match no other.

Triple Fresh

Friends, it’s time you meet Tony Madrigale.

Tony has been working as a butcher at Triple Fresh for over 40 years. Before the Petros took over the store, Tony worked with the former owner. But his story begins 80 years ago, when at the age of 7 he was helping his father with butchering on their family farm. Tony’s father raised steer, lambs and other animals on the farm where they lived. Tony learned early how to prepare an animal and the intricate process of cutting meat. He worked on the farm until he entered military service. Upon completing duty, Tony worked for a short stint at Lukens Steel in Coatesville, Pa., but eventually ended up working at the store that would become the Triple Fresh we know today.

Triple Fresh RoastsMeat has been the backbone of Triple Fresh for many years. Even today, with the rising popularity of the deli and prepared foods sections, the meat department is a vital asset to the store. Everything created in the prepared foods section comes from the work of the meat department. The butcher team does all the prep work, making it possible for people to have a great take-home meal.

Alongside Tony, you can find Steven Semple (Triple Fresh’s head of the meat department, who is coming up on three years at the market) and Richard “Dick” Hoover. This program is a rarity in this age of overblown supermarkets full of cryovaced meat. At Triple Fresh, customers can ask for exactly what they want: cut, size and trim. Thanks to the presence of these men, customers get not only quality cuts of meat but also the on-site knowledge of how to use those cuts of meat.

PA Eats sat down with Tony, Steven and owner Jim Petro to learn more about the Triple Fresh meat department and best practices when working with meat at home:

PA Eats: What makes the Triple Fresh meat department different from those at your average chain grocery store?

Steven: We offer any kind of cuts that you want—custom cuts. And other stores don’t offer an in-house butcher. They are moving toward prepacked more and more. We also carry local stuff, which a lot of big stores don’t do.

Jim: Right, like Buck Run Farm (Dr. Elkin’s beef), Buffalo Run Ranch. All of these are real close to here, within a couple miles.

Tony: Most of [the chain stores] have all their meat already wrapped.

Jim: Big stores get things shipped in cryovaced. And they just put it on the shelf. We don’t do that here.

Is there a right way to cut meat?

Tony: (laughs) Oh, there’s definitely a wrong way!

Jim: Something Tony has always said, and I learned this the first week I was here, was, “Show ‘em the meat.” We cut our meat right. So we always take that package and show the customer what they are buying. Work with the grain, otherwise it makes the meat tough.

Noted! What are the best cuts of meat for these cold winter months?

Tony: I like a porterhouse and a New York strip steak!

Steven: Roasts move much better during the wintertime. Chuck roast, top round roast. We have chuck tenders roast—very lean.

Jim: Comfort foods and cuts of meat you can stuff, like pork chops.

Sausage and Eggs Triple Fresh


Which cuts of meat are most popular with Triple Fresh customers?

Steven: The roasts are popular right now.

Jim: People use a lot of boneless, skinless chicken. Because it’s so versatile. And it can be a comfort food as well.

Steven: And chicken drumsticks! We’ve got a great price on them right now, and they are really moving.

What are the “unsung heroes” of the meat world—those lesser known, but valuable, cuts that people don’t know about?

Jim: We’ve got two things that come to mind for me: beef shoulder and pork loin. The shoulder can be used as a lean roast or you can make them into steaks. Pork loin offers a lot of cuts, and you can stuff them with special stuffing. Tony’s specialty is cutting the rib end of a pork loin right down the middle, splitting the bone, for a beautiful country-style ribs.

What are the biggest mistakes people make with their meat?

Tony: Overcooking the meat.

Jim: We have instruction labels right on the packages to keep people from making mistakes. Our butchers are on-site, so customers ask questions. Our chefs are on hand as well, to make suggestions on sauces that go well with the meat and the ingredients you need to make them.

Tony: Take it slow. Let the flavor build!

Experience the Triple Fresh meat department and use the great tips above to create a quality home meal. Stop by (Tony works Sundays and Mondays!) and check out the great cuts Triple Fresh has to offer.

Find Triple Fresh at 801 Doe Run Rd. in East Fallowfield, Pa. To stay updated on the latest from Triple Fresh, check out their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo credits: Stephanie Anderson