Why Peter Sanagan’s move into European’s former digs is pretty much the best news of the week
By Anna Silman
King of Kensington (Image: Sanagan's Meat Locker)
Earlier this year, Toronto meat eaters received some disheartening news: European Quality Meats and Sausages, the decades-old Kensington market stalwart and carnivore’s bastion, would be closing its doors for good. Numerous publications proclaimed it the end of an era, viewing European’s demise as a consequence of an increasingly “yuppified” Kensington Market.
Yet those ready to eulogize the loss of Kensington’s old-world indie charm need not give up hope. Yesterday, Sanagan’s Meat Locker, located just down the block at 206 Baldwin, announced plans to move into the space formerly occupied by European ( The Star's Corey Mintz had the story first).
Here are five reasons why we’re super stoked about the new shop, which is aiming to open by early August.
1. Kensington stays meaty. In a February Toronto Star article, Larry Leider — son of Morris Leider, founder of European — said that the new owners of the space would definitely not be meat purveyors. Happily, the rumours of meat’s death were greatly exaggerated. For Toronto’s remaining omnivores, it’s a relief to know that 176 Baldwin Street will still provide a safe haven for those who aren’t quite ready to trade in their sirloin for soybeans.
2. Kensington stays indie. While there were fears that another corporate, big-box store would sail along in European’s wake, Sanagan’s is totally in line with the indie ethos that characterizes “old-school” Kensington. The shop, a labour of love by owner and founder Peter Sanagan, is an independently-owned, ethically-minded butcher shop that will be sure to retain that personal, home-grown touch that you won’t find at Walmart or Costco or other generic McMeat counters.
3. Peter Sanagan gets a kitchen. Sanagan is not your average butcher. Formerly a teacher at George Brown’s culinary program, he worked as a chef for 15 years before opening his butcher shop, serving as chef de cuisine at Mistura. Yet, in his original shop, Sanagan was confined by the small space and the lack of a full kitchen. As he explains in a blog post: “After the inception of the Meat Locker, I realized my skills as a chef were not going to be fully realized unless I had a kitchen at my fingertips.” Well, the new space will provide him with just that, and in turn, Sanagan plans to provide his customers with a host of terrines, pâtés, rilletes, cretons, galantines, mousses, stocks, jus, soups, locally-sourced sauces — basically, anything a meat lover could want. As Sanagan explains, “If it has anything to do with meat, I’m going to stock it.”
4. Did somebody say sandwiches? If there’s one thing Torontonians can't seem to get enough of — both herbivores and carnivores alike — it’s sandwiches. And Sanagan is nothing if not in tune with the culinary zeitgeist. Along with his quality prepared cuts and homemade meaty delicacies, Sanagan’s new meatery will make full use of the space’s hot sandwich counter, which Sanagan excitedly proclaims will be “the amazingest new sandwich counter in the city.” We’re salivating already.
5. The sound of music. Those who have walked past the old Sanagan’s may have heard strains of Stan Rogers or The Weakerthans wafting out. A self-proclaimed “pleasurist” who loves “music, food, drink, and good lovin',” it seems that Sanagan’s taste in music is just as refined as his taste in meat. As a 2011 Globe and Mail article reports, Sanagan is part of a new wave of 20 and 30-something butchers with “a hip sensibility” that have revitalized the industry with youthful flare. With delicious meats and a badass soundtrack to boot, there’s never been a better time to be a carnivore.