McBean’s dad, Ken, was the grandson of a butcher, and did his first butchery in 1955. Gary first picked up the knife in 1970, opened his own business at Prahran Market in 1984, and Gary’s daughter, Ash, started on her path to carrying on the family trade in 2006.
But you also find a bona fide TikTok star, the shop’s account having attracted tens of millions of views sharing videos of Gary’s exacting knifework. Gary’s Prahran butchery has just reopened as G. McBean Family Butcher in a new, larger shop at Prahran Market, presumably to house his legion of online fans, but the offering has remained the same: top-quality meats butchered lovingly for customers and restaurants alike. Here’s what he gets up to in Melbourne.
My local is Hector’s Deli. Not a traditional local I know, but one of my favourite foods has always been a good sandwich, and when it comes to the best, I look no further than Hector’s. I try to pop in whenever I can, with my personal favourite being their beef and pickles, or the HCT.
I know I’m in Melbourne when I can walk into almost any standalone café and know that I will get a top-quality long black.
In the mornings you’ll find me in my butcher’s shop – G McBean Family Butchers, preparing our display for another day of trading.
My defining food moment in Melbourne was my first meal at Attica, back in 2016. The standout dish was a slow-cooked lamb shoulder matched with white wine. Until then, I didn’t think you could pair white wine and lamb, but now I know you can. Only took Australia’s best chef Ben Shewry to change my mind.
When I want to show the city off to friends from out of town, I like to take them to the Prahran Market – in my view, Melbourne’s epicentre for premium quality produce. The best cheese offering can be found at Maker and Monger, the best fresh fruit and vegetables at Pino’s Fine Produce, the best bread and pastries at Q Le Baker, and the best coffee at Market Lane. I hope the best quality meat goes without saying.
My favourite place to stock up on supplies is Pino’s Fine Produce – they have the highest quality fresh fruit and vegetables and have set the standard for quality at the Prahran Market for over seven decades. John, Sam and Mark Narduzzo are all legends of the Prahran Market.
Victorian meat is especially great because it offers an incredible balance between diversity of offerings and the highest quality. There are not many places in the world that offer premium quality beef, lamb and pork, but Victoria is certainly one.
The best value meat in Victoria at the moment is Wanderer beef. They’re raised on barley in a free-range environment; a unique balance that produces quality beef year-round.
Nobody cooks a steak in Victoria quite like Rossi Bar in South Yarra. The steak is cooked on open flames, medium rare, but what makes it really special and unique is the cut – a wagyu rump cap, or picanha from Black Opal.
The best new thing I’ve found is Studio Amaro on Chapel Street. It has some of Melbourne’s best new Italian food, servicing up antipasti, pasta, but my favourite being the veal cotoletta. They also have a basement bar with over 40 bottles of amari.
When I want to go all out on a special meal, I will prepare a six-week dry-aged marble score 4+ Cape Grim scotch fillet and cook it over coals. The balance this steak offers in tenderness, flavour and depth is un-matched in my opinion, and a coal cook is always superior.
When I want to drink something Victorian, my first choice is to head straight for the Mornington Peninsula: a treasure trove of great wineries, but my favourite being Yabby Lake. Their pinot noir in particular is unbeatable.
There’s no better value in Melbourne than Leonardo’s Pizza Place. If you want to try Melbourne’s best old school-style pizza in a ’70s-style environment, I would highly recommend checking this place out. The pepperoni or pork and fennel sausage pizzas would be my top recommendation.
And the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the wide range of standalone, unique small businesses that specialise in and are passionate about the highest quality eating and drinking experiences.