The ancient craft of butchery is making a comeback here on the Sunshine Coast, thanks to Shannon and Adam Vanderwoerd, owners of the artisan butcher shop The Gibsons Butcher.
The Gibsons Butcher is a sought-after hotspot for high quality meats - and great service too. They specialize in sausages, cured & smoked meats, prepared meal solutions, pet food, and freezer packs. They also have a selection of artisan culinary products for sale in store, such as fresh eggs, seasonings, produce, cheeses and more.
The pair are childhood sweethearts and have both grown up on The Coast.
Ironically, Adam didn’t start off a as a butcher. He began working in produce at a local shopping centre. When an opportunity to work in the butchery department came up, he “kind of cringed” because it wasn’t his passion. But, he took the opportunity and was mentored by two veteran butchers; each with very different styles. One who had a culinary background and the other who specialized in hanging meat butchery.
As he perfected his craft, Adam found his niche as a butcher and developed his own style; acquiring a local following in the process. Over the years, the seed of owning a shop of his own began to flourish.
“I think being in the industry as long as I have been, I noticed a trend of a lot of summer activity. I guess the idea that came about was trying to provide to those people coming from the Lower Mainland. They were used to a different experience there,” he says. “I wanted to give them that experience here - the same, but better.”
In October 2016, Shannon and Adam opened The Butcher in the location of the old Blackfish Beer and Wine store. They worked with the team at Space Building to artfully renovate the shop to their tastes and needs. Shannon - a Starbucks business coach for many years - used her skills to develop the business plan, design the branding and marketing materials, and lend her eye to the interior design. After co-launching The Gibsons Butcher, she has since founded her own coaching company, SV Business Consulting.
When the butcher shop opened, Adam’s faithful fans followed. But they soon piqued the interest of a whole new clientele - some of whom come from the Lower Mainland just to experience The Gibsons Butcher.
It’s no wonder they are so popular, given the extensive selection. Their sausages come in mouthwatering varieties, like Spicy lamb, Smoky chipotle, Turkey cranberry, Chicken rosemary, and Chicken andouille. Their signature jerky sells out in hours, and they’re working with local breweries on various recipes, including the pepperoni in the Caesars at 101 Brewhouse and Distillery. They also offer pre-made meals, such as succulent chicken breasts stuffed with smoked applewood Cheddar and wrapped in prosciutto, Maui ribs, meatloaf and marinated kabobs.
Now entering their third year of business The Gibsons Butcher has become much more than a place to get a fine cut of meat. It’s a place to learn about the meat, and support Sunshine Coast farms too. In fact, educating customers on both the origins of the meat and how to prepare it is a major part of their philosophy.
They’re not selling $0.99 chicken by the pound at this establishment.
“Sometimes customers come in here and they’re worried about the price. It is a little bit more pricey than you would buy a piece of beef elsewhere,” says Shannon. “But we can literally say that it’s from across the street, that it died and within 24 hours was here in our shop, it was properly aged, it’s had no hormones. This is the happiest animal. If you’re going to eat meat, it’s the most humane way and it’s the healthiest meat.”
One of the key ingredients to their success is a passionate and dedicated team of employees - some of whom even have The Gibsons Butcher logo tattooed on them.
Shannon and Adam are committed to supporting other local businesses and farmers in the area. They’ve partnered with The Lone Wolf Bakery to provide fresh-baked bread at the butcher shop and are even hosting a Nose to Tail Pig Dinner at the Gibsons Public Market, in partnership with Emelles Market Bistro and Farm to Feast Food Truck.
The pair has also worked with local farms to certify them for slaughtering meat locally. They are also working with farmers to set up a Farmers’ Institute, which will continue to expand the network and resources for Sunshine Coast farmers.
The Gibsons Butcher also believes in passing on the art of butchery to future generations and works with local students to provide apprenticeships and financial support. They offer a bursary to Elphinstone Secondary and The Alternate School and have donated over $20,000 in fundraising to the local schools.
Having grown up on The Coast, Shannon and Adam have built a lifetime of memories. In fact, Shannon tears up when she thinks about her life here and how much she loves it. Her most treasured memories, though, are of the mini family getaways with their two teenage daughters to their favourite (and secret) spot, high up in the mountains overlooking the ocean. There’s no cell service there, and they sit together, BBQ and watch the world go by.
While Roberts Creek has changed, Adam still looks back on his childhood there with great fondness. He remembers the safety he felt as a kid walking the streets, walking to school and hiking through the trails.
It’s a feeling I know well, having grown up in a small town in England. That feeling of being home, no matter where you roam in your hometown. This sense of wide open space and that feeling of “home” is one of reasons why I’ve chosen the Sunshine Coast to be my forever home.
And with folks like Shannon and Adam in my community, I know I’ll be well fed too.
The Gibsons Butcher has two locations: The Butcher (Upper Gibsons behind the Blackfish Pub) and The Butcher Express (The Gibsons Public Market). Visit their website at thegibsonsbutcher.com and follow them on Instagram @thegibsonsbutcher or Facebook.