By Claudia Richter
Photography by Country Park Portraits
Meat Masters in Katy has a loyal following, and it’s easy to see why. The specialty meat market has an old-fashioned feel to it. Customers pop in to pick up a meat order, and most are greeted by name. Fresh meats are displayed in a refrigerated case or cut to order from larger cuts of meat. There are other specialty items such as farm fresh eggs, wood chips for smoking and sandwiches you can order for lunch. It’s a business that Marvin Kropelnicki, Jr. has perfected after many years working in the butcher business since back in high school while growing up in Virginia. He compares the quality of meat he carries to that of some of Houston’s finest steakhouses, and his briskets have been described as second to none in terms of flavor and tenderness.
Kropelnicki found his way to Katy after his sister moved to Houston, and he decided to try Texas out as well. After an 18-year career with Kroger and also time with Randall’s and HEB, his wife, Kathy, suggested he open his own butcher shop. “I had always wanted to have my own shop,” says Kropelnicki. “I had my wife working with me, and she oversaw the build-out and helped the store come together. We had a nice barbeque for our grand opening.”
It wasn’t long after opening, though, that wife Kathy became ill, and the family, which includes two daughters, lost the main maternal figure in
their life, a great loss and at a young age. “Kathy had been saying that she really wanted to travel and see some other parts of the world,” says Kropelnicki. “I told her that we could start taking some trips, and after 30 years of marriage, maybe renew our vows.”
When life didn’t turn out the way he thought it would, he knew that even though life doesn’t always seem fair, he had to keep going. With a business to run, however bittersweet, Kandice, with baby Kaleb, helps her dad out on most days. Younger sister Kyla also helps out and attends college. “I like having my daughters working with me,” says Kropelnicki. “It’s nice to have people you can rely on and trust.” The young women don’t cut the meat, but they help with sales and service and other duties around the shop.
In the future, Kropelnicki would like to grow his shop bigger and gain some security. Maybe even take a vacation.
1. Don’t always look for the leanest or reddest cut of meat. Find good marbling for flavor.
2. Make sure for grilling that the meat is not cut too thick. A good thickness is one inch.
3. Less is more! Season with cracked black pepper and kosher or sea salt. A good cut of meat has good flavor on its own.
4. Meat that has been aged longer is better. The longer the aging, the more enzymes have broken down.
5. Favorite cuts of meat for Father’s Day or other special occasions: Filet Mignon, Rib Eye, New York Strip and Sirloin.
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