How many of you are of the vintage that remembers the theme song to the classic television show The Beverly Hillbillies? Well, “Come ‘n listen to my story ’bout a man named”…Mike. Michael McKenzie, that is.
Yes, there are a lot of “Michael”s in the realm of food in the National Capital Region. There’s Michael Blackie, Executive Chef of theNational Arts Centre; Michael Hay, Executive Chef of the Courtyard Restaurant; Michael Moffatt, Executive Chef of Play Food and Wine and Beckta Dining and Wine; and Michael Sunderland, artisan confectioner and trained pastry chef of michaelsdolce. There’s even Matthew Carmichael, an award-winning chef who was behind three restaurants located in a city block of one another: E18hteen, Social, and Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen and Bar.
What sets Mike McKenzie apart? Besides being the ever understated and humble purveyor of all things salumi in Ontario, who can be found heaving a dry cured leg of heritage pork over his shoulder, he’s everywhere!
Seattle may have Chef Mario Batali’s father Armandino and his Salumi Artisan Cured Meats. San Francisco, Chris Cosentino, Mark Pastore, and their Boccalone. Ontario, we’ve got Mike and his family who perform culinary alchmey, salting pig, lamb, and beef parts to make chorizo, sopressata, saucisson sec, various copa (using loin cuts), lomo, bresaola, pancetta, and even guanciale. Everything, handcrafted from in-house butchered meat, which McKenzie sources from his community of local farmers.
Seed to Sausage Charcuterie Sampler at Sandbanks Winery
If you haven’t heard of McKenzie’s Seed to Sausage or how his salumeria has taken Ottawa by storm, you clearly haven’t been paying attention. Bought any fresh or dry sausage from The Piggy Market in Westboro, the Ottawa Bagel Shop in the West Wellington Village, or Mckeen Metro in the Glebe lately? Tucked into a charcuterie plate at Play Food and Wine, Taylor’s Genuine, Wellington Gastropub, or Murray Street Kitchen Wine and Charcuterie recently? Odds are you’ve eaten something that came from McKenzie’s shop.
I first met him while volunteering at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company‘s annual Oktoberfest celebration, the most recent one. I recognized the saucisson sec McKenzie served as that which owner Dave Neil addicted me to at The Piggy Market. Neil handed me my first slice with a knowing evil grin. At Oktoberfest, McKenzie neatly arranged slices of saucisson sec and sopressata on scrap wood boards I later learned he picks up from his neighbourhood wood mill in Kingston. We struck up a conversation, starting with the subject of sous vide. I then brought him beer.
McKenzie is an Ottawa native, having grown up in the city and attended Woodroffe and Laurentian high schools. He rented his first apartment over Hillary’s Dry cleaner’s on Wellington Street West in the West Wellington Village, just paces from the Ottawa Bagelshop that would resell his wares.
What started out as a hobby, with McKenzie working out of the garage of his Kingston home, grew into a family business, incorporating his wife, Meghan, and his parents, Anna and Ken. Eventually, as more and more restauranteurs and chefs asked for McKenzie’s products, he left his career in the Canadian Armed Forces and set up shop in the former Sharbot Lake Meat Market (12821 Highway 38). There, he hired third generation English butcher, Martin Jenkins, and two chefs. Jenkins built the meat market originally.
Together, the team that makes up Seed to Sausage breaks down whole animals to produce salumi, wasting nothing. Besides more recognizable cuts like loin and belly, cheek and jowl are all directed to different applications. McKenzie’s father Ken does the books. His mother and wife work in the shop, retailing products to the public and ensuring wholesalers that distribute Seed to Sausage are well stocked. Meghan also makes artisan marshmallows exclusively for The Piggy Market.
In a week’s time (Saturday, May 19, 2012), McKenzie will host a food festival at his shop in Sharbot Lake. There are two reasons. Firstly, he wants to participate in this year’s Food Revolution Day, an international event originated by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to inspire people to change their food habits. Secondly, he wants to celebrate, opening his new retail store.
Regarding the Seed to Sausage grand opening,
I wanted to do something special to mark the opening of our retail operation and what better way than to recognize Food Revolution Day and celebrate the joy of eating wonderful food with your friends, family and those who have helped support us over the last year,” said McKenzie. The event runs from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and will move indoors in the event of rain.
Source: “Local Entrepreneur Celebrates the Onset of Summer” media release.
The retail store will offer the same products Seed to Sausage has always retailed to the public and more. It will be attached to the shop. McKenzie aims to stock the store with salami, sausage, artisan bacon, and what he calls successful “experiments” like artisan hotdogs or the lamb loin he served at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival event. The loin was prepared in the tradition of a copa, but smoked. One batch was cured, smoked, and air dried in black pepper and another in cayenne pepper. Both were delicious.
The store will also have an artisan butcher’s counter where McKenzie plans to offer dry aged beef, lamb, pork, and offal like sweet breads. He also plans to resell artisan jams, pickles, chutneys, and cheese. These artisan products, however, will have to meet a strict standard. They must be some of the best on the market. And, McKenzie himself must be comfortable serving them in his home to his family. If it’s not in his fridge, it won’t be on his store shelves.
The grand opening will be quite a feast, complete with live music. To date, McKenzie has invited Kingston Chefs Derek Macgregor of Le Chien Noir and Steve George of Olivea, who will prepare whole roasted lamb and pork. He invited Ottawa chef Kyle Christopherson of the Brookstreet Hotel’s Perspectives Restaurant to work out of a food truck McKenzie loaned from another Kingston chef. The truck is named “Good to Go” and McKenzie has requested “funky dishes.” During our conversation, he mused about liquid nitrogen “smoke” billowing from the service window and pass.
Besides Christopherson, Josh Bishop of The Whalesbone will be on-hand, serving freshly shucked oysters. The Whalesbone’s Brett Arden will serve wood-fired pizza from his mobile food venture, Strata Pizza.
To accompany the food, which will range from $5 to $10 per plate ($2/oyster), Montreal’s St. Ambroise microbrewery and PEC’s Sandbanks Winery will provide libations. Drinks will also retail in the $5 to $10 range.
Presently, Seed to Sausage wholesales to 35 restaurants and specialty shops in Ottawa, Kingston, Perth, and Toronto, cities that now celebrate McKenzie’s salumi.
Can you imagine the party Mckenzie will throw when he opens his own retail store? If you can free up the time on May 19th, do attend. It will be well worth the visit.
Both the Seed to Sausage shop and the soon to open retail store are located at 12821 Highway 38 in Sharbot Lake, which is “10 km south of Highway 7, 60 km north of Kingston, 130 km west of Ottawa and 100 km east of Belleville.”
What: Seed to Sausage Grand Opening
Where: Seed to Sausage Shop (12821 Highway 38 in Sharbot Lake)
Date/Time: Saturday, May 19, 2012 11am – 4pm.
How Much: Free Admission
Tags: #indulgePEC, Artisan Food Festival, featured, Prince Edward County, Seed to Sausage