Charlie the Butcher

Famous Restauranteur Transforms Family Butchery into Destination Restaurant

From humble beginnings to a thriving multi-location restaurant, Charlie the Butcher evolved his family’s butchery after discovering an oven unlike anything he had witnessed before at the 1985 National Restaurant Show. Now nearly 40 years later, Charlie is a well-known figure in the culinary world, known for his delicious Beef on Weck. With the Alto-Shaam Cook & Hold oven, Charlie is able to achieve consistent, high-quality results every time—with minimal labor, ventilation and hook ups required.

Customer Details

  • Charlie the Butcher
  • 770 Elmwood Avenue Suite A *In the Heart of the Elmwood Village Buffalo, NY 14222 716-885-2333 (BEEF)

Charlie Roesch, best known as Charlie the Butcher, is a popular Upstate New York restaurateur and media personality famous for his mouthwatering Beef on Weck sandwich.

Almost 40 years ago, Charlie discovered the Cook & Hold ovens at the 1985 National Restaurant Association Show. It was there that he learned how the low-temperature oven could naturally tenderize and age a piece of meat overnight. Charlie then began cooking his roast beef in Alto-Shaam’s Cook & Hold oven—transforming his family’s third-generation owned butcher shop into a food destination. 

Charlie’s famous Beef on Weck sandwich was invented by a German immigrant baker and entrepreneurial bar owner in the late 1880s. The sandwich features thinly sliced roast beef on a Kummelweck roll. The German words Kümmel and weck translate to caraway and roll. To create this delicious Beef on Weck sandwich, Charlie takes a Kaiser roll encrusted with both caraway and pretzel salt and loads it with thin-sliced roast beef, a dollop of horseradish, and serves it with au jus for dipping. Charlie attributes the popularity of his Beef on Weck sandwich to the tenderness and flavor of the roast beef.

“It has completely to do with the consistency and quality of the meat that is coming out of Alto-Shaam’s Cook & Hold oven,” says Charlie. “I can naturally tenderize all cuts of roast beef to come out with the same texture and flavor, so the process is very consistent and reliable.”

Alto-Shaam’s Cook & Hold ovens don’t just produce the highest quality product. They also significantly reduce labor needs and can be operated without ventilation or water hook ups required.

“My staff doesn’t need to come in at 6 a.m.,” Charlie says, “because my proteins are already done and will hold in that cavity for 24 hours and maintain that same temperature. My staff doesn't have to worry about the proteins. They don't have to be watching them in a convection oven and setting timers and constantly taking temperatures.”

Charlie says the science behind the cooking and holding process is important for operators to understand.

“If I can take of piece of meat, let's say a top round, and I can bring it from 35 up to 100 degrees F and slow that process down. That's what's going to tenderize and age that piece of meat overnight in an oven, which would otherwise take me three weeks to do in a butcher shop meat cooler.”

Alto-Shaam’s Cook & Hold ovens also save Charlie money every day because it doesn’t dry out and shrink the meats.

“If I cook a prime rib in a conventional oven, I might get 14 servings,” says Charlie. “If I cook the same product in an Alto-Shaam Cook & Hold oven, I get four more servings out of each prime rib. If I cook 10 prime ribs every Thursday, I just cut my food cost tremendously: I'm getting 40 extra servings out of it. I can buy less meat and serve the same number of people and that goes right to my bottom line.”

The consistency of Alto-Shaam’s Cook & Hold ovens is also important, since Charlie’s Beef on Weck must taste the same across all his locations.

“I have to make sure I'm using a system that's going to make them all taste the same with the same tenderness, smell, feel, texture and the same degree of doneness. Alto-Shaam gives me that,” says Charlie. “Alto-Shaam has allowed me to have an excellent quality product at a reasonable price, and I know that my top rounds will come out of that oven to perfection.”

Charlie attributes his success to his mentor, Alto-Shaam founder Jerry Maahs.

“I followed his philosophies in life,” says Charlie. “He's the one that gave me this success when I developed my whole restaurant concept around what an Alto-Shaam Cook & Hold Oven does to a piece of meat. I still have that oven, and it's still operating today. I'm able to cook in 21 cavities and all my proteins finish within one or two degrees of where I want them. That's pretty remarkable."

To learn more about Charlie’s story, visit Alto-Shaam’s booth #4454 during the National Restaurant Show from May 18-21 in Chicago or register for a live cooking demonstration to see Cook & Hold ovens in action.

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