From the day Your Everyday Gourmet opened its door, owner Dan Wallace has never stopped reinventing his butchery. From sourcing the best produce in the country to delivering the highest quality products and services to his customers, Dan has continuously strived for perfection, resulting in him winning 16 medals at this year’s Victorian Regional Sausage King and Best Butchers Burger Competitions.

Humble beginnings

In the cathedral city of Wangaratta in the northeast of Victoria, Dan decided to open his first butcher shop, a dream that began when he started his career at the tender age of 12 as a wash-up boy. From their humble beginnings starting with just Dan, his wife Brodie and a chef, today, Your Everyday Gourmet employs ten full-time staff that includes two chefs, two delivery drivers, butchers, apprentices and service staff. His staff are his family, loyal and instilled with the same passion as Dan and his wife. Many of his staff have been with Dan for more than seven years, a testament to Dan’s understanding of how important it is to have happy staff.

Looking after your staff is just one way Your Everyday Gourmet continues to be successful. But, the greatest secret to their success that is ingrained in everyone that works there, is to never stop trying to find new ways – no matter how risky – to meet the needs of their customers.

“Listening to your customers is the key to understanding how best to meet their needs,” says Dan. “When you look at our display you see traditional cuts, yes, but we also sell sauces, condiments, wines, salads, lasagna, ice cream, prawn dumplings, scallop potatoes and pizzas, whatever our customers want. We even supplied hot cross buns during Easter, as our customers complained that the baker wasn’t opening his doors on Saturday – they flew out the door!

“Our reputation for delivering the best products and services in the area is why we have two service vans that travel within a 150 kilometres radius five days a week,” Dan says with pride. “We also service over 50 restaurants and pubs, whose patrons often come to us after having a meal and finding out where the meat has come from. We even have a customer who visits us every year from Tasmania just to buy our famous pork mince to make her homemade salami.”

Inspiration & guidance

Dan reflects on how he was able to develop such as a strong business model and one name dominates his thoughts – Russel Harris. “Russel gave me the opportunity I was waiting for, to be a butcher’s apprentice,” Dan recounts. “Russel took me under his wing, teaching traditional butchery but also how to cook value add products and meals such as pies, lasagnes, smoking smallgoods and much more and to try new things so that you are always at the forefront of the industry. But above all, to work as hard as you can.”

These words still resonate with Dan today. He only sources the finest quality produce from Col Pretty of VIC Wide Meat Brokers, who supplies him with Cape Grim Grass-Fed Beef from Tasmania, Jacks Creek Wagyu from New South Wales and Black Onyx Beef from Queensland, and of course they always support the local farmers via Mitta Valley Beef. 

Competition success

High-end quality meat creates premium products, which is what Dan has brought to the Regional Sausage King and Best Butchers Burger Competitions.

“It is a team effort, a lot of time and love goes into preparing our sausages, burgers, kabanas, bacon and ham, and to come up with the winning recipes is simply incredible and a complete surprise,” Dan explains. “Our products won based on their quality, flavour, texture and appearance but the biggest winners are our customers. Our sales have quadrupled since the competition, the amount of publicity has been phenomenal, I’ve been on the local TV, radio, two magazines and three different local newspapers. You just can’t buy that kind of publicity!

“Every time I enter this competition I challenge myself to be the best at the one thing that I am most passionate about and what makes me happy,” Dan says with great excitement. “It’s not easy being a business owner but I am lucky to be doing what I love every day and it’s good to know that if I need help with my business Phil Stocker, from AMIC is just a phone call away to answer any of my questions, which is invaluable.”

 Money-can’t-buy publicity

Your Everyday Gourmet has also been promoting their win on their website, as well as their Facebook page, which has created great returns for their business.

“We have a great website but it is our Facebook page that has given the greatest connection with our customers. We have over 7,000 followers who have sent all their best wishes for our incredible wins but Facebook has become an invaluable tool for us to promote our products, our latest recipes and specials. I once had a side of lamb on special that reached over 100,000 people, simply mind-blowing. We also get a lot of feedback from our customers on Facebook, which we love to read but it also gives me a chance to promote my staff and show my appreciation of their tireless commitment to making our customers happy.”

Their customers and the community in which they serve is very important to their business.

“Our community is everything to us and we give back whenever we can, donating meat to the Care Van that goes out at night to feed the homeless, supporting Anglicare with vouchers and of course supporting the local footy team,” says Dan.

“We make sure that our business is also sustainable and that nothing goes to waste, we use bones for making stock, slow cook meat for our pies, as well as offer specialities such as mutton and offal, alongside our gourmet products and premade meals.”

Dan reflects on what it means to be a great butcher, “Helping our customers is what makes me happy, I have the opportunity to educate them about the best cuts and provide them with the tastiest meal options that allows our time-poor customers to have a beautiful meal for themselves, as well as their family and friends, what could be better than that?”