When the Jenn Agg and Grant van Gameren opened the Black Hoof in 20008, Toronto diners couldn’t seem to get their fill of charcuterie. The trend still shows no sign of dying out, as boards of cured meat continue to pop up on the menus of newly opened restaurants across the city (see how charcuterie has fared in our food trend power ranking for more proof).
For over a month now, Kensington Market butcher shop Sanagan’s Meat Locker has been carrying a small line of van Gameren’s home-cured meats, but the former Black Hoof chef’s name has just been attached to the product over the last few days. “I’m not much for name dropping,” says Peter Sanagan, the shop’s owner. “But our customers want to know where our meats come from, and Grant felt it was the right time to get his name out there.”
Van Gameren, along with business partners Alfredo Santangelo and Frank Abballe, has been working at creating a wholesale charcuterie business for a while now, and has given Sanagan’s a first taste in order to introduce his product to the market. “Obviously, this has always been a real passion of mine,” says van Gameren, who is the head chef at Enoteca Sociale. “But the process can take anywhere from two months to two years, and right now we’re in the product development stage with large test batches.” Currently, Sanagan’s has three of van Gameren’s products: a lonza (made from pork loin), a coppiette (made using various muscles and the ham of a pig), and a juniper-cured carpaccio.
Using a 6,000-square-foot facility outside of Belleville, van Gameren says he and his partners will be making test batches for the next year or so before they’re ready to introduce the product to a larger market, with stalls at farmer’s markets and possibly even a small salumi store. Right now the products are available at Sanagan’s, the Cheese Boutique, on the menu at Enoteca Sociale, and at the two Pizzeria Libretto locations. And as for van Gameren’s much-anticipated restaurant venture, he says “something’s in the works,” but won’t elaborate any further.
PHOTO: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star