When Raymond Samot was a sophomore in high school, he started working for , the meat, donut, and produce shop at the center of East Hampton shopping for many years.
“I was one of six kids and if you wanted something, you had to get it,” he recalled. His journey from Dreesen’s to in East Hampton to Cromer’s Market in Noyac, where he runs the meat department now, reads like a Horatio Alger story.
Dreesen's owner Rudy De Santi, Jr., along with his father, Rudy Sr. started Raymond in salads. “He taught me about meat cutting and helped me go to school in Toledo, Ohio to learn meat cutting, the names of meats, identifying cuts, where they came from, and how to merchandise them.” Rudy shared the cost of his education.
He began working full time in the Dreesen’s meat department in the early 1980s. “I took care of customers as if they were my friends,” Raymond said. “They became my friends, and then I got invited to so many things it was crazy.”
Samot, who lives in Wainscott, recalls the many notable individuals who came through the front doors over the years: “Pele, Michael Jackson when he was in "Oz" on Broadway, Clinton, Cindy Crawford (she was hot), J-Lo, her sister Linda. James Brady was in all the time. He put me in one of his books, and wrote about me in Crain’s when Dreesen’s closed in October of 2004. His daughter put me on Page 6 of the Post.”
Many of the patrons of Dreesen’s followed Samot when he was hired by Citarella, and again when he moved to Cromer’s. Word spread quickly among those who count on him for ideally cut pieces of their favorite meats.
Citarella hired him right away. “They came after me,” he said. “But behind the counter, it was less one on one. More get them in, get them out.”
After three years, he moved to Cromer’s. “It was more home style, what I was fond of doing. I’ve been a single parent for last 16 years, and the job allows me to leave at a reasonable hour and spend time with them.” His children are now 24, 22, and 19.”
But he misses the days of following the families that were customers at Dreesen’s. “The best part was watching the kids grow up. It was great. It was fun to get up and go to work every day.”
The craft of being a butcher is a dying profession, Samot said. “The art of breaking down hindquarters, the days of old butchers are gone,” he said. “We used to carry around 180 pounds of beef. Now everything comes pre-cut.”