Fresh and Local: Boston Offers More Than a 'Decent Meal'"The food the chefs here put out is as good as any meal I've ever had in New York, as good as any meal I've had in San Francisco."
Michael Dulock is the butcher you wish you still had at a store near you.
Dulock, the owner of Concord Prime & Fish, knows which fish are fresh this week. He finds cattle and game that have been raised humanely. He carries whatever is legal to eat that folks might want to try: partridge, squab, pigeon, fresh rabbit, quail, capon, venison, elk, bison and more.
Just want chicken? You'll have to settle for a small whole organic chicken.
"I source local animals from farmers in Massachusetts and I butcher them myself at the store," says Dulock.
Dulock, 38, gave corporate America a good go before heading into retail. Raised in Everett, a bedroom community just north of Boston, he attended Wentworth Institute of Technology to study engineering. He dropped out to help his brother, who was making a good living at his own seafood store, but quickly ventured out again.
He tried his hand — and succeeded — at finance, banking and real estate, getting promoted far beyond any training, and booking millions in sales. But again and again he returned to Boston — and fish. Finally, he says, he gave in to the pull.
In 2008, he was helping his girlfriend move into a home in Concord, an upscale community just west of Boston, when he spotted an empty brick-and-glass storefront. It was the perfect, quaint New England setting for his own seafood store. At 3,500 square feet, though, he'd have to add meat to fill the space.
"My biggest challenge is, here I have 20 years' experience in the fish business, but my only experience with meat is cutting a piece on my plate," Dulock says.
Not a problem. Dulock hired an expert and studied up himself. It beat the office.
"I realized how much I had a distaste for office culture," he says. "I grew up in a blue-collar, working-man's industry, where if someone didn't like something they told you. … If I think something, I say it. I don't do a good job keeping my mouth shut."
It's an attitude that works at the store, where Dulock is eager to share the pleasure of good food. He's cooked every product in his store, tried every spice and sauce. Pick up a slab of fish and Dulock can quickly offer instructions on how to prepare it at home.
"I pride myself on being a wealth of information, and the more information I can give my customers the better the relationship can become," he says.
In a city that's becoming increasingly sophisticated for foodies, Dulock is operating in the black despite the recession. He thinks Boston gets short shrift in the culinary world, too often seen as only a place where you can get a "decent meal."
"The food the chefs here put out is as good as any meal I've ever had in New York, as good as any meal I've had in San Francisco, but they just don't get their due," Dulock says.
"Just go into a restaurant and tell them to cook something for you. If you're open and adventurous, you're going to get the meal of your life," he says. "I love Boston. I love this city. To me there isn't anything you can't get."
Check out Michael's Boston.