The Frugalista Life

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Walter Apfelbaum takes the reins at Tampa Hard Rock’s Council Oak Butcher Shop

Walter Apfelbaum’s passion for butchery began when he was a kid in Asbury Park, NJ. He says he was most interested in going to the meat section to see what kinds of interesting cuts were available at the store. Fast forward a bit to 2019 when he’s now the executive butcher at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa’s Council Oak Steak & Seafood Butcher Shop. It’s funny I didn’t realize I’d seen the butcher shop the last couple times I ate at Council Oak. I remember having a slight interest in the “weird meat” in the meat section at my local grocery store. I’d never seen names like “tripe” or “cow tongue” ever in life and I thought they were funny names.

I spoke to Apfelbaum recently about the Council Oak Butcher Shop. He just wants it to be a memorable experience for everyone whether they’re dining at Council Oak or not.

A little tidbit from our interview:

“When Walter Apfelbaum was a kid, he was always drawn to the meat section. The third-generation butcher says he grew up in a time when his family spent all day shopping around local markets to fill their pantry (and stomachs). 

“Coming from a German household, we never went to the grocery store. It was always the butcher for meat or the fish market for fish. It was never one place and it was a whole ordeal getting food for the week,” Apfelbaum explains. 

He discovered his passion for butchery early and started working with his father’s friend in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Taking Walter under his wing, the family friend took Apfelbaum around town to explore the various butcher shops; anything from whole animal butchery to local shops. 

“He knew all the cutters and the guys at the steakhouses in the tri-state area. He’d send me out to help them during the holidays,” the butcher remembers.

Fast forward to when Apfelbaum picked up the knife and began his career behind the counter. In 2009, he began working for Council Oak Steaks & Seafood at Tampa’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino before opening a new restaurant at the Coconut Creek Casino location in 2011. Rising in the ranks, the seasoned cutter left Hard Rock in 2016 to open the Prime + Proper steakhouse in Detroit.

Apfelbaum was summoned back to the Sunshine state three months ago by the Council Oak Steaks & Seafood team, which had been running the in-house butcher shop since 2009.”

Read more about the butcher shop and Apfelbaum here.

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