Products & Producers

Carnes Jacinto - The art of working with meat

Fomos visitar Sérgio Ribeiro, o homem por detrás das Carnes Jacinto e de algumas das carnes apresentadas n´O Paparico. Este jovem produtor português, representa a quinta geração da sua família, que viu na arte de trabalhar a carne a sua paixão e a sua vida.

How many years have you been working in the meat industry?

Sérgio Ribeiro (SR): I have been consciously working in this industry since I was 8 years old.

I grew up inside this house, I am the fifth generation working in the meat industry.

What mobilized you to start with the premium meats? This meat has always been there or have you had any inspirations to start with them?

SR: We've always worked with premium meats. Now is trendy, but for us it's nothing new! New is the market where we entered and we started to appear a lot thanks to certain friends, like Chef Rui Martins and others, who opened us paths to other markets and to other people who want to have this product.

But we always had premium meats, we have been maturing for 60 years. We already have this process more than consolidated, we simply didn't have market and now we do!

When you're looking for special animals, are you looking for a specific breed or is that indifferent to you when we're talking about a Premium meat?

SR: For me it's a little indifferent the different existing breeds, because I only work with the 6 native breeds from the North, which are the most important and the best in the world.

In my opinion, the secret is not only the breed or genetics (although very important), but the treatment the animal has had during its life. And this is very special in our land, in our Portugal; this country so old, with people already old, in which the children emigrated looking for other lives. These people have not given up, they continue with the old methods of treating the animals and many of them are isolated, on land, mountains, in villages so deserted that the animals for these people are life, are their children. These animals have all the attention and affection that the absent children would have if they were with them.

This growth of producers and demand for matured meats, special meats, older animals have occurred exponentially in the last 2/3 years. You who are in the field, how has the productive system adapted to this so fast and so drastic growth? Do you think there is any discrepancy between the available product and consumption?

SR: The problem is that there's no scale and it's not possible to materialize, with the mentality that exists of "it's all for yesterday", to respond to these consumptions.

More and more we see people maturing, saying that they are able to do it, but the doubts are there and the results too! In the case of animals, it's the same thing: everybody has animals, everybody consumes old animals, everybody sells, but old animals are not everywhere and unfortunately, they are very rare. You can't replicate them! Animals have their age; they have their growth period and what exists is what there is!

Our strategy is to go local by local, person by person and try to value them as much as possible, so that they don't give up and continue doing what they do and have done all their lives.

Most of these workers, these people who do such excellent work, give up! They give up because they don't see a future and even, we giving the necessary support, we can't totally help. We always have the timing of the animal, of its growth, which is immense and often bigger than the life of these people.

If we imagine that people of 80 years old, will start to breed again an animal that in 15 years could be slaughtered, it's unsustainable.

We try to get around this situation through young people, that's why we have some associations linked to us like Galega Minhota, where we try to make colloquiums and gather farmers and associates explaining, motivating and creating incentive, to continue with their family history in this area.

At the beginning of this interview you mentioned that the friendship with Chef Rui Martins was important in several aspects of your life and your Brand. Let's say that you were the pioneers in the selection, communication and confection of luxury meats. How do you describe this friendship that already adds up to a few years?

SR: I have a great friendship for Chef Rui Martins, he is like a brother!
He is a "door" because he is in the continuation of our work. We as producers have to have someone on the other side that also transmits our work to the final consumer and Chef Rui Martins is the best person to do it.

There is certainly a valuation in this value chain that I've been talking about since the beginning, at least I'm sure that the meat in the hands of Chef Rui Martins, besides being "well treated", will not be damaged.

The respect for nature is the most important for us and that's why Chef Rui Martins when presenting the product in its best form, in its most natural form, makes the final client enjoy this respect and this quality.

What's your selection criteria when Chef Rui Martins asks you a meat for O Paparico?

SR: Our criterion is to try to look for rare animals, animals that have the characteristics previously mentioned. We look for people who work in the field, who give importance to the animal in life and who treat it with respect.

We look for the animal that grazes and that eats natural, a healthy and chemical-free diet. Because contrary to what many people think, the "yellow" of the meat is given by the "green" of the pasture and not by the corn.

All these characteristics will be part of my meat selection for O Paparico.
Special pieces, rare, that many times are not easy to find, because I have to go to the land, to know the animal in life, to know the people who treat it, only this way it is possible to transmit the respect to who will make these pieces, in this case Chef Rui Martins.

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Jacinto meat is today without a doubt the great seal of quality and excellence in matured old beef. From our point of view you are more than meat, you are a very different Brand from the North to South competition and that's why we would like to know, since we talk so much about Carnes Jacinto as the main distributor of matured meats in restaurants from North to South of Portugal, if it bothers you to see your name, your Brand associated to certain spaces that effectively doesn't buy you.

SR: It bothers me a lot! It bothers me because we live every day as if it were the last one, we love what we do, we are honest and we always try to do better!

We are talking about a Brand that is 100 years old, that has gone through several generations in my family and seeing my name in certain spaces, of course it bothers me.

When they are our Clients and we transmit our values, our care, our respect and they pass these same principles on to their final Clients, we are all working in the same direction, but to see restaurants using my name when they were never our Clients, they don't know us, they don't know what we do, it's incomprehensible.

We see many times in the market miserable meats and this is a fight that we have daily and I repeat, it bothers us!

We are doing this interview in your new space and although the readers do not realize its greatness, you have made a great investment. Your search for quality and your future vision is notorious. What is your great project, in the short term, for the future?

SR: I usually say that I have the best animals in the world and that in my opinion, shows how much I like Portugal, our flag, because although we are small, we have such special products and places that unfortunately few people do value.

Fortunately, the international market is attentive and we are starting to be increasingly recognized outside Portugal. We have had some surprises in this sense that we were unaware of.

Every week we have visits from people coming from other countries and who are dazzled by the

Brand. They simply come here to see who "Jacinto" is.

So, my ambition has no landing, no place. My ambition is to be the best in the world and that's where I'm going!

I want through my work, an affirmation of Portuguese meat of extreme quality internationally. It is something very rare and in which we cannot say that all Portuguese meat has these characteristics.

A product of excellence, unique in the world, is what I want!

 

Translated by DeepL

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