Braaied Chicken on My Butchers Smoking Block

My Butchers Block Featured in Braai Country

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Article by Cindy Page – Braai Country: “I met Lee Ginsberg and Lizelle Swanepoel from My Butchers Block at Tygervalley.

This dynamic couple is responsible for the My Butchers Block brand which, along with the Ultimate Braai Master TV series, has become a household name.

Down to earth and honest, they chat to me about how they started out and how they have built their brand, as well as what it’s like to be partners in business and life.

Lee (from Brackenfell) started his working life in the framing business after dropping out of school at 16 (yes, you read that right). Like so many, he was retrenched but saw an opportunity to do business with the clients he had on his books directly and so he registered his first company, Paramount Mirrors and Prints in 2010. Paramount specialises in high quality frames for portraits and mirrors which can be found at top end furniture outlets such as Tafelberg and Coricraft. Without any formal training, Lee clearly had a knack for doing big business and Paramount grew from strength to strength.

In 2012, while he and Lizelle were visiting family in Plettenberg Bay, he saw a butchers block on his cousin’s kitchen counter and saw another opportunity.

“I saw this awesome solid wood kitchen board, and thought: I can make that. I started out with making just three sizes and then the maintenance oil. Then last year while I watching Ultimate Braai Master on TV I saw that they were using imported bamboo cutting boards and I thought: they should be using a local product…like mine!” 

Now not only are the cutting boards endorsed by one of SA’s top TV shows, they are also stocked by one of the biggest retailers in the country, Pick n Pay.

For most, the rest would be history from that point, but being a born entrepreneur meant that the ball didn’t stop rolling with My Butcher’s Block for Lee. In 2013 he expanded the brand to include the artisan boards and this year launched the Braai Boards (which foodies everywhere love). I was intrigued when I first heard about the braai boards so I had to ask: how exactly do they work?

“The braai boards are naturally flavoured from their origin (maple, cherry, cedar and oak). So, you sear your meat of choice on the braai, and then place it on the board. You then place the board on a braai grid over medium heat coals and let it smoke. The smoke infuses the unique flavour.” It’s quite brilliant. Each board (which retails about R99 for a double pack), comes with recipes designed by top food stylist Caroline Gardner.

With the Butchers Block brand growing and Paramount running Lee needed an extra pair of hands and convinced his partner of 12 years (and seasoned sales rep), Lizelle, to join him.

The couple met (again) in 1998 after brushing past each other in Brackenfell High school, and by 2003 they were inseparable and now share a home and 2 daughters aged 3 and four months.

“I left my job as a sales rep to join Lee at the beginning of this year…” she smiles and then jokes, “…he doesn’t pay too badly.”

What are the challenges of running a business together and having a young family?

Lizelle says, “ I thought we’d end up fighting a lot, but actually it’s been great. We get to spend a lot more time together. If Lee needs to go somewhere and I’m not too busy, I’m always keen to jump in the car with him and tag along.”

Lee says, “The hardest part is reminding yourself that your partner isn’t just another employee, she is also your other half and should be treated with the respect that she deserves.”

My last questions: How many Butchers Blocks and Braai Boards do you have in your own home? And what’s your favourite Braai Board recipe?

Lizelle, “ We have more than a dozen braai boards lying around at home, especially the rejects! They are still usable, but not perfect to sell, so we use them. We also tend to gift butcher’s blocks and artisan boards to friends and family,”

Lee adds, “…I think I may even have one next to my bed! We’ve tried a few types of meat on the braai boards like chicken, steaks and wors, but so far my favourite is smoking chilli poppers on them.”

Other My Butchers Block facts:

  • they are made from Knysna blackwood
  • can last a lifetime if treated
  • the oils used for maintaining the block is a pharmaceutical grade oil for germ protection
  • currently retailing at most retailers nationally
  • a proudly South African product

LIKE My Butcher’s Block on Facebook to stand a chance to win products and hear about promotions. For more information or for large quantity purchases, you can contact Lee directly: 082 776 6025 or viaemail:

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