Meet the Deli Detail: We’re introducing you to our passionate team of experts. Today’s featured Deli crew members are our Meat Mongers
Meet the Deli Meat Mongers
With a landmark Reuben and a destination-worthy deli counter, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a haven for meat lovers. The Deli’s meat mongers are responsible for curating the Deli’s impressive and extensive inventory that makes it a meat mecca.
“The food does most of the work. There are three things we take into consideration when carrying a product: 1. Has to be full flavored. 2. Has to be traditionally made. 3. Whenever possible, we try to purchase directly from the producer to maintain a strong relationship and get as much product knowledge as possible. Any salesman can grab a bottle of something and read it off the back label. We provide that deep connection from the producer to customer,” says our Deli meat mongers.
To best serve our guests, our meat mongers develop personal relationships with the best producers in the business, like one of our favorite Michigan makers, Sy Ginsberg, “The pastrami is amazing. Not smoked, coriander-crusted and spices make my mouth water writing about it,” Kevin B, one of our meat mongers said.
In addition to maintaining relationships, the Deli’s mongers are constantly studying the tradition and history of their craft.
Most of what we sell is the product of years of preservation techniques. Ways to keep food delicious and safe to eat. Before there was even an understanding of microbes humans have been developing ways of saving things for rainy days, so to speak. That is where the magic is.
One aspect of our meat monger’s product expertise is that they have their fingers on the pulse of what’s hot in cured meats. Beyond the Deli’s most popular meat, Zingerman’s own corned beef, our meat mongers have seen an uptick in n’duja, a spreadable salami with loads of spices and flavor and increase in guanciale lovers, as of late. Our mongers said that “when Stucci [Stanley Tucci] did a recipe with guanciale we couldn’t keep it in stock!”
Tasting with a Meat Monger
Kevin, one of our meat mongers, got his start in restaurants working at a sushi bar in California, where he found a passion for slicing fish. He says he took the skills he developed at the sushi bar to the next level with slicing bone-in ham at the Deli.
While our monger’s slicing skills are a key tool in their toolbox, their palate and product knowledge are what makes them the person meat aficionados seek out behind the Deli counter. Their superpower is guiding guests to their new favorite cured meat.
“I recommend trying new things with people who have had them before. When I taste with a guest I try not to provide too many descriptors. I want people to taste things as they were meant to be tasted. Everyone’s palate is a little different. And your palate will change over time. You can sample any of our sliced or ready-to-eat foods. We have a little different system nowadays, but the offer still stands,” Kevin said.
Our mongers not only takes guests on flavor adventures at the meat counter, they also serves as an expert on serving, pairing and storing meats.
“Store it in the coolest part of your fridge. I always tell people that when I slice it for them it’s the best it is going to ever be. It only degrades with time. So, use it soon. Share it with your friends and neighbors if you’ve got extra,” Kevin suggests.
When it comes to sharing wisdom on serving, our meat mongers keep it simple. They advise guests to let meats come to room temperature, which makes taste buds more receptive to complexity and subtly of flavors.
When it comes to pairing, our mongers suggests thinking outside of the box. There’s an opportunity to pair meats with pickled or brined vegetables, like olives or cornichons, and even tinned fish and soft cheeses.
In addition to experimenting, most of all, our meat mongers wants our guests to share their taste experiences.
“I highly encourage people to share their encounters with food with others. It’s the one thing that all people take part in and can have varied experiences with. Hey, we all need to eat,” says Kevin.