Executive chef Craig Deihl and chef de cuisine Bob Cook have honed their charcuterie craft over the years at expansive fine dining space Cypress, and they are a few weeks away from opening a small shop on Spring Street to showcase their delicious discoveries. With just 1100 square feet, Artisan Meat Share will be a retail outlet for all the wonderful items Deihl and Cook make in the Cypress kitchens.
Hogs and cows will be butchered on East Bay. Salami, sausages, pâtés, and the lot will be made there and then brought to delicatessen on Spring Street. Cypress is the commissary kitchen, with lots of large scale equipment and plenty of room to break down three pigs at once.
With an opening looming, Eater wanted to learn more about the other components of the Artisan Meat Share and see if these two chefs were getting any rest leading up to the big day.
Let's chat about the new place a little bit.
Deihl: Well, you saw the Garden & Gun article. And some of that was about what we've been doing. I didn't want it to be this is what we are going to do, but more of this is what we've been doing to get to where we are going to start. We didn't elaborate on making our own breads in that article. It was more meat-based. I think the unique thing about talking to different people about it is being able to talk about the different elements involved. If you really are an Artisan Meat Share follower, you'll have to pick through all these different pieces to find out every single thing that's going on. Bob's been helping out with all the unique things, like we got a Pluff Mud Porter barrel from Holy City Brewing to make mustard in.
Cook: We're doing some cool collaboration stuff with Holy City that will be really unique. For example, the barrel we got from them, that they age beer in, we're going to age mustard in.
That's going to be a lot of mustard.
Cook: A lot of mustard
Deihl: 55 gallons.
Cook: With the space being so small, we're not sure how much product we're going to be going through—as far as selling out of the restaurant or take-away. We're trying to go large-scale on everything (because we can, so that's nice).
Deihl: We found that the longer we let things go, the better they become. We're fans of the more musty, funky flavors. We want people to say, "Man, I've never tasted mustard like that and that is really amazing."
Cook: Another collaboration with Holy City is we're taking a lot of their spent grains from two different batches of beer, and we're drying the grains here. And then Greg [Johnsman] from Geechie Boy is setting up a mill to specifically mill that type of thing—a grain with a higher moisture content. For the past few months, we've been getting batches of Holy City's grains, dehydrating them, sending them to Greg, and then he will mill them into flour and bran. We're going to turn that into breads. So, lots of collaboration and cool stuff.
Deihl: There are a lot of artisan products that aren't just meat related.
Like your own pickles?
Cook: Kimchi, pickles, mustards.
Deihl: By the end of the week, we should have a huge batch of kimchi for the opening, a batch of sauerkraut, and a 55-gallon barrel of mustard.
Cook: A lot of the things that people come here [Cypress] and enjoy, like pimento cheese and pickles, will be available to buy wholesale like the meats. It's a neat thing that people might not really know.
Deihl: We want to focus on what we've already been doing really, really well.
Cook: Like the things you see at burger night—you'll see over there.
Will you sell your own bread over there?
Cook: We won't start out wholesaling the breads quite yet. But there will be some stuff, like the products we do a lot of, like burger buns and hot dog buns. We won't be a bakery per se.
Deihl: I think it would be a great idea when it comes to different meat-focused holidays, like Fourth of July or Father's Day, to give out a four pack of sausages with sauerkraut and buns.
Cook: Sort of like the original Artisan Meat Share/CSA feel.
Deihl: There's a lot of fun ideas.
Cook: We're trying to keep that space fun and super exciting for people.
Will patrons see both your faces over there?
Deihl: You may not see both of us at the same time, because we're operating two restaurants at the same time, but for the first couple of weeks, we'll be over there figuring it out.
What time do you guys get started in the morning? I'm worried you won't get any sleep
Cook: It's not so bad now.
Deihl: Did I mention my wife is due a week before the opening?
Think about it this way: we started Burger Night two years ago to justify taking all the trimables from our steak and doing something unique and different one night a week that would use up all the leftovers in one day. We don't have lunch here, so if we bring in whole chickens, and we only sell breasts here, what do we do with the rest of the chicken? Other than eat it for family meal? We get to get creative and come up with things like chicken sausage, chicken bratwurst, and other things that wouldn't necessarily be on the menu here.
Say, if we had a pork chop on the menu here or the belly or the neck roll, we'll sell pork there as retail because people want to buy fresh local meats, but we'll also make fresh salami cotto, salami, pâtés, different hot dogs, mortadellas, and terrines with the rest of it. You can take home cuts, but also plates and sandwiches. We'll be moving through everything much more quickly.
Cook: We'll have a core menu of user friendly stuff—we're not selling chicken gizzard patties—but we might get a little out there with the special stuff. We'll announce it on social media, like Instagram and Facebook.
Deihl: I think the local following will get excited for the specials, like fried chicken or some new crazy sandwich that looks amazing.
What was one thing that had to be on the menu at the new place?
Deihl: The Italian cold cuts were something I wanted to see on the menu
Cook: We eat those when we have big nights like New Year's or Valentine's. We'll make a huge batch of sandwiches, because we're so busy all day long. You can walk by and grab one. We've grown to love that around here. It reminds us of those holidays. We want the rest of the town to enjoy that too.
Deihl: I doesn't need to be a holiday to have a really good Italian cold cut.
Cook: For me, it's a Braunschweiger sandwich. I grew up eating these sandwiches. It's not going to be the star, but I'm looking forward to offering people that.
Have there been any misconceptions you'd like cleared up?
Cook: I don't want people to think it's a butcher shop. It won't be a place you can see someone butcher a pig. It's not like Ted's, with cases full of meat. We'll do our best to keep a couple of those things in store, but it's not a butcher shop.
Deihl: I see it being a country store butcher setup. If you want something special, you order it a couple days in advance. Give us ample time, and we'll cut it and have it ready on the day you need it. I enjoy cutting things like that. I don't like the idea of having a lot of cuts and waiting on customers to pick it up. I want it to be hodgepodge of charcuterie, sandwiches, butchered meats, and other gourmet things, like fried chicken or smoked brisket—all utilizing what we are given from whole animals.
And even though it's not a full blown butcher shop, we bring in two whole beefs a month and bringing our numbers up to four pigs a week. Even though we aren't a butcher shop, we're still doing a whole lot of butchering to bring you charcuterie and sandwiches.
· Craig Deihl's Magical Meats on Spring Street [-ECHS-]
· Artisan Meat Share [Official]
· Craig Deihl: The Artisan Butcher [G&G]
· Holy City Brewing [Official]
· Geechie Boy Market & Mill [Official]
· Ted's Butcherblock [Official]