January 08, 2015
Not only are you what you eat, you are the love you show your food.On Monday, Jan. 5, Chef Nick Macri took over the Border Springs Farms stand, a purveyor of humanely raised lamb at Reading Terminal Market. He calls his own stand La Divisa Meats. The move sees him rising from manager of Border Springs shepherd Craig Rogers' retail destination to the deviser of a new butchery and charcuterie concept.
Considering everyone's paying off their credit card bills after the holidays, Macri told PhillyVoice.com his first week was "good." What's been most rewarding is the support of the other vendors at Reading Terminal, he says.
La Divisa refers to a subdivision of Calabria, Italy, where Macri's grandparents farm. The last time he visited was three years ago. They still have chickens running around. La Divisa salami, described online as "coarse-ground large-diameter salami seasoned with salt and black pepper," is the simplest of his cured meats.
The shop sells cuts of raw meat - Border Springs lamb (he's their biggest retail client); Country Time pork from Hamburg, Pennsylvania; and Birchrun Hills veal from Chester County, which Macri says are "more versatile" meats - and the charcuterie he makes of that meat. Raw offsets the high costs of producing the cured stuff, while the profit from charcuterie goes toward buying high-quality meat. It's a cycle.
For Macri, respect for animals as living beings is of utmost importance. He doesn't let any part go to waste. "They're like family," Macri says of Rogers' flock, whom he's visited in Virginia. He even knows a guy who carries a notepad full of pictures of his animals.
It's what led him to settle on Country Time and Birchrun Hills farms: Rather than buying local for local's sake, which he equates to trying to follow a "geographic guideline" for quality, Macri is taking advantage of this agriculturally rich area to work with only those farms that share his commitment to truly caring about their products.
Macri operates on a shoestring staff of three, including himself. Upstairs at Reading Terminal, they brine and prepare, a process that can take up to eight weeks, while downstairs, the animals are broken down. They all "cut," Macri says.
Growing up, the chef didn't notice the influence of his grandparents, Italians who made their own salami. But after he left their fold, he realized they had something "different...unique."
At La Divisa, it's still all in the family.