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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice
Jonel Picioane, owner of Ridgewood European Pork Store, with the pistachio salami he is entering into the first-ever Charcuterie Masters competition.

Ridgewood European Pork Store is putting its meats to the test this weekend, as they prepare to take part in the first-ever Charcuterie Masters competition on Saturday, Feb. 27, at Flushing Town Hall.

The shop, located at 516 Seneca Ave., will be entering its pistachio salami, hazelnut salami, air-dried wasabi-rubbed wagyu beef and its cured smoked leg of lamb with rosemary into the competition.

“Those are the four things we are putting in the competition,” said Jonel Picioane, owner of Ridgewood European Pork Store. “I’m excited. This is our first competition. Hopefully we get the win; it’ll be a notch in our belt. We can say we have award-winning salami.”

The Charcuterie Masters competition is presented by New York Epicurean Events and the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts in conjunction with The Meat Market, The Salt Cured Pig and AgriForaging. It celebrates the art of preserved pork products such as salami, sausages and prosciutto.

The charcuterie that Ridgewood European Pork Store makes are cured, smoked and dried.

“The smoking that we do, that is key,” Picioane explained. “The smoker is from the ’30s. It’s built into the building. The smoker has been in use since the ’30s, every day, nonstop. It’s a well-seasoned smoker. The key to the smoker is it gives it a mahogany color. With a newer smoker, you can’t get that effect on it. To give it the flavor, we use natural wood sawdust. It doesn’t cause big heat.”

Picioane and his family have owned Ridgewood European Pork Store since 1975, but the butcher shop has been operating since the 1930s.

“We are Ridgewood. We’re the old and the new,” Picioane said. “I’ve seen the ups and downs of Ridgewood. It’s changing for the good now, I think.”

Ridgewood European Pork Store creates some very unique meats that people keep coming back for, even after leaving the city. Picioane has shipped his products near and far, servicing his customers across the country.

“Bacon is our top seller,” Picioane said. “We sell a lot of bacon. We make a lot of new stuff. You can’t eat the same thing for 50 years. You get bored, so we have to switch stuff up. We make a lot of things here you can’t find anywhere else.”

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