End of an era for family business that popularized Lunenburg pudding
Richard Greek sold Greek's Meats in Bridgewater, N.S., at the beginning of the month
At Greek's Meats, the recipe for Lunenburg pudding has changed very little in the last 70 years.
Victor Greek perfected the iconic South Shore snack back in the 1940s, and his family's company in Bridgewater, N.S., still sells a lot of it — 680 kilograms (or 1,500 pounds) a week, to be exact.
His son, Richard Greek, is now retiring and selling the business, but the younger Greek is reassuring his customers that the Lunenburg pudding isn't going anywhere.
"It's a nice feeling to know that my father started it, and I continued it and it's going to be passed on," said Greek, who officially sold the business on Feb. 1 but is still showing the new owner the ropes.
Very secret recipe
Lunenburg pudding is a traditional German food that's similar to pâté, and the Greeks make it by combining beef, pork, liver and heart.
They boil the ingredients, grind them up and add spices like salt, pepper and summer savory before stuffing it all into a casing and letting it cool.
Greek is tight-lipped about exactly what goes into his dad's famous pudding, but he has no problems sharing his method.
"You have to be very accurate. Everything is checked and double-checked as you do it," he said.
Greek didn't eat much of it as a kid — an oversight he more than makes up for now.
You have to be very accurate. Everything is checked and double-checked as you do it.- Richard Greek, former owner of Greek's Meats
"I eat my fair share now. As we make the product I test almost every batch. We make batches of 300 pounds [136 kilograms] at a time, several days a week," he said.
The origin story of the Greek family recipe begins when Victor Greek was just 11 years old. He landed a job at his uncle's meat store in Lunenburg where he started experimenting with recipes for Lunenburg pudding and sausage, and before long he was selling them on his own.
In 1975, Victor Greek opened Lunenburg Pudding and Sausage Ltd., also known as Greek's Meats, in the same spot it is today.
Long history in Lunenburg County
But long before Victor Greek was fine-tuning his own Lunenburg pudding recipe, German farmers who came to Lunenburg County in 1753 brought recipes with them.
Anyone who had access to meat made Lunenburg pudding, including Ralph Getson's grandfather.
Getson, a retired curator of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg, remembers bringing the food to a reception with his professors when he attended Dalhousie University.
"It was my great joy to buy this and take it there, cut up with maybe some crackers and cheese on the side and then stand back and watch all these learned men look at it and say, 'Oh look at the pâté!' And I would get such a charge out of that," he said.
Even now, biting into the soft meat at Christmastime takes him back.
"It's a comfort food," he said. "You think of all the old people that have gone before and enjoyed that and lived off of that."
Getson said he's stood in long lines at Foodland just waiting for employees to bring the pudding out so he can get his fix.
Customers stock up
Dave Robb, owner and operator of Foodland in Lunenburg, said the business has made Lunenburg pudding in-store as long as he can remember. In the summer, he likes to bring out the pudding, which has a greyish-green colour, for tourists to try.
"Those that have never seen it or heard tell of it, we try to give them the brief history … and we cut it up for them and let them try it and nine times out of 10 they take it back with them," said Robb.
Greek said he has customers who've moved away, and return from as far away as B.C. and Alberta to buy the pudding. Sometimes they'll bring coolers and buy 45 kilograms (100 pounds) at a time so it lasts the whole year.
Leaving the business his dad built is going to be hard, he said, but Greek takes comfort in the fact that his staff — and his recipes — will carry on.
"So we've done something right, by following the traditions that dad started and improving them in some ways, we've actually increased our business quite a bit," he said.
And, of course, he'll be back for the pudding.