PHOTOS: Cured meat festival in Queens aims to establish American charcuterie tradition

All photos by Katarina Hybenova/QNS.com

All of the city’s hardcore charcuterie fans came together for the first annual festival of cured meat this past Sunday, Feb. 27.

Held at Flushing Town Hall, the Charcuterie Masters festival displayed about a dozen charcuterie makers competing for one of the prizes, with both artisanal meat aficionados and industry professionals in attendance. However, the atmosphere wasn’t really about competition.

“We were so excited to bring together so many talented makers of artisanal charcuterie,” said Joe diStefano, one of the festival organizers. “A lot of the guys and gals, makers of cured meat, were simply having a blast. Our goal was to make it a celebration of charcuterie where many like-minded individuals came together — whether makers or eaters,” he said.

For Jeremy Stanton from The Meat Market, who came to the festival all the way from Great Barrington, Massachusetts, charcuterie is about tradition.

“In Europe, tradition happens naturally,” he said. “Cured meat knowledge is passed down from generation to generation but here in America, we don’t have that. So just getting everyone in the room sharing the knowledge is so important. You need to rely on the knowledge of someone with years of experience. [Making charcuterie] is not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact. ”

Ends Meat is located in Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. They make Italian-style dry cured meat products and find a way to utilize every part of the pig. “We get two or three whole pigs every week, we butcher and prepare them on the site,” a representative of Ends Meat said.

Rhonda Kave operates Roni-Sue’s Chocolate Shoppe & Cafe at the Lower East Side in Manhattan. At the Charcuterie Masters, her bacon covered in chocolate was a hit.

“We’ve been making pig candy since 2007,” she said. “I thought it would be popular for a day or two, but instead we’re here in 2016 and it is still one of our most popular products.”

Though it wasn’t meat, equally popular and delicious was cheese from Crown Finish Cave, a cheese-aging facility in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

“We buy cheese from farmers as soon as it’s made and age it,” said Chelsea, a Crown Finish representative. Located in an old brewery 30 feet below the street with an ambient temperature of 50 degrees at all times, Crown Finish is perfectly versed to age cheese into perfection. The most expensive cheese Crown Finish currently has costs $40 a pound.

“When you pay that kind of money,” Chelsea explained, “you’re really paying for quality because the animals get treated well and the nutrients are still there, unlike in the grated cheese from a supermarket.”

The winners of the first year of Charcuterie Masters were as follows:

  • GRAND CHAMPION: Antonio Tony Fiasche, Nduja Artisans
  • Second Place: Fred Maurer, Dickson’s Farmstand Meats
  • Third Place: Michael Clampffer, Mangalitsa by Mosefund
  • Best Amateur: Steven Jagoda

The panel of judges included the following:

  • John Patterson, The Salt Cured Pig
  • Bob Del Grosso, The Salt Cured Pig
  • Will Horowitz of Ducks Eatery, Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co.
  • Gregory Laketek, West Loop Salumi
  • Cesare Casella, Dean of Italian Studies, The International Culinary Center
  • Francine Segan, Food Historian and Italian Food Expert
  • Erika Nakamura, The Butcherette
  • Jocelyn Guest, Salvation Burger

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