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FOODIE CONFIDENTIAL

Meet Meat maestro Leonhard Weber

Master butcher Leonhard Weber loves his meats and can eat steak every day

As a teenager, Mr Leonhard Weber had an unusually bloody way of earning extra pocket money.

Growing up in Lake Constance in Germany, he spent his weekends during the winter months running after pigs so he could clean and slaughter them.

The German recalls his days working at an abbatoir with a chuckle: "I was a skinny 14-year-old and a 120kg pig was three times heavier than me. It was hard work - hanging the pig on its hind legs, deboning it and cutting out sections like the trotters and belly."

He was paid 50 Deutsche marks for every pig he slaughtered and that weekend job paved his way to the butchery trade.

  • WHAT WOULD YOUR LAST MEAL BE?

  • A bone-in ribeye steak like the one I slow-roasted for 24 hours for my 40th birthday. It was so tender and soft, like molten chocolate.

Now 59, Mr Weber is the master butcher at Pan Pacific Singapore, where he oversees the operations of the butchery department that produces more than 100 varieties of sausages, charcuterie and hams. These meats are distributed to supermarkets, eateries and airline catering companies.

When he was 14, he served a three-year apprenticeship at a butchery in Meersburg.

Later, he enrolled in a butchery school in Heidelberg and graduated with a degree in master butchery.

Over the years, he has worked in Germany and Bali.

He has come up with newfangled flavours of sausages, such as the chicken rice sausage inspired by one of his favourite local dishes which he enjoys at Boon Tong Kee in Balestier Road.

The sausage is stuffed with chicken meat and rice perfumed with lemongrass, ginger and chicken stock in a casing made of sheep intestines.

Mr Weber, who is married to a 34-year-old Balinese housewife and has a five-year-old son, says: "When I am eating, I will think about recreating the flavours of a dish in the form of sausages and which spices complement the meats."

What are your favourite varieties of sausages?

Pork tongue blood sausage and teewurst (German sausages made with beef and pork).

Pork tongue blood sausage is a must-eat when I return to Germany as it is uncommon here.

I like to spread teewurst, which is very smooth in texture, on my bread and have it for breakfast.

What is the key to making good sausages?

It lies in using fresh lean meat seasoned with salt and spices. And they are filler-free.

What are your favourite cuts of meat?

I love the pork collar; it may have a tough texture but it is so juicy when roasted. I also love ribeye and sirloin steaks as they have good marbling.

Which is the most difficult butchery skill to master?

Making salami. It is crucial to cure the meat for 36 hours at 30 to 35 deg C.

The temperature, humidity and air flow need to be controlled when drying the meat to achieve a rich flavour and right shade.

Which restaurants do you go to for German food here?

I like Kaiserhaus at Capitol Piazza for its tafelspitz (boiled beef rump with oyster blade) and pastries such as zaunerstollen (a nougat praline made with wafers, hazelnuts and chocolate).

What are your favourite Singapore foods and where would you go to eat them?

I enjoy the chicken and beef satay from the Papparich cafe chain as they are well-marinated with spices and go well with the rich peanut sauce. I also like the sweet and sour pork at Jumbo seafood restaurant. Its gravy is tangy and sweet.

What are your must-have foods when you return to Germany?

I crave for sauerbraten (a German pot roast that can be prepared with a variety of marinated meats). It brings back memories of my apprentice- ship days when I always had this for lunch at the end of a work week.

Until my first butchery teacher died last year, I always had this dish with her when I visited Germany.

What do you like to cook at home?

I cook German dishes such as roast pork collar or steamed ham with potato salad.

I can eat steak every day; I cook my steaks till medium done.

I also like mie kuah (Indonesian noodle soup with chicken and vegetables).

If you could choose anyone to have a meal with, who would that be?

My mother. I miss her as I was in Bali when she died seven years ago at 83. I would make the dishes that I learnt to cook from her such as pork cutlet and thinly sliced potato salad, sauerbraten and green beans with homemade noodles.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 08, 2015, with the headline 'Meat maestro'. Print Edition | Subscribe