Among Kopaz’ specialties are the deli sandwiches the shop
is known for. The most popular is Phil’s Phabulous, which looks
like a muffuletta and is made with prosciutto, mortadella, Genoa
salami, capicola, provolone, Asiago, onions, tomatoes, roasted
red pepper and pickles. Ingredients are topped with a balsamic
glaze and a mix of Italian herbs that employees call “Charlie’s
love dust.” Sandwiches are sold by the pound, and customers
can select one of the daily offerings or have a custom sandwich
prepared with any cheese or meat in the shop.
A BUTCHER IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Butcher shops are a trendy sideline for some chefs, but
others, such as Matt Romine, have made it a full-time job.
Romine owns, with twin brother Mike, the farm-to-table
gastropub Mulefoot in Imlay City, Michigan. He was finding it
increasingly difficult to get local meats, and producers were
hard to connect with. To get the whole animal, orders had to be
placed as much as a year in advance. To solve the problem for
him and other area chefs, the brothers opened Farm Field Table
in Ferndale, Michigan, a full-service butcher shop offering
locally sourced, humanely raised meat.
Romine runs the shop, which opened in March and caters
to consumers and especially restaurants. He believes he offers
a win-win for chefs who want top-quality meat but don’t want
to butcher it themselves or pay someone on their staff to do
it. Romine buys only whole animals, and does the butchering
himself. He’s self-taught, and his talent comes naturally. “I’m
from a family of hunters,” he says. “I grew up butchering.”
Because he buys whole animals, part of his mission is to
educate customers about the lesser-known cuts of meat that often
are more flavorful and cheaper than the more well-known ones.
He does offer, though, all the most popular cuts, such as chops,
steaks and tenderloin, which are easy to prepare, good-tasting
and familiar. That’s what today’s retail customers want.
SUZANNE HALL HAS BEEN WRITING ABOUT CHEFS, RES TAURANTS, FOOD AND WINE FROM HER
HOME IN SODDY-DAIS Y, TENNESSEE, FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS.
As the home meal replacement market has grown, so have
the opportunities for supermarket chefs to be challenged and
creative. Chefs such as Mehallick in other retail establishments
may not have as wide a variety of options, but they can be creative
and challenged, as well.
R2GO stocks a variety of cheeses from around the world,
deli meats, local breads, eggs, milk and some produce. Mehallick
prides herself on selling jarred and tinned products such as
sauces and condiments that can’t be found in supermarkets. Her
ready-to-go menu includes sandwiches and a repertoire of six to
eight different soups a day.
The ready-to-heat menu includes brined Amish half
chicken, meatballs in sauce and vegetarian lasagna. Customer
favorites are chicken potpie, turkey meatloaf with leek mash and
shepherd’s pie. Also on the menu are vegetable dishes and salads,
sticky-toffee pudding cake and housemade cookies. There are a
few tables for customers who want to buy a sandwich and eat in.
SEASONAL DAILY SPECIALS
Beef bourguignonne, turkey breast, roasted salmon and
shrimp cakes are some of the ready-to-go meals that chef Justin
Kopaz prepares for his customers. They are part of the offerings
at The Cheese Shop in Concord, Massachusetts, which sells
as many specialty items as can fit in the relatively small shop.
These include 200 different cheeses at any one time, sliced deli
meats, fine wines and beers, and specialty items such as teas and
coffees, olives, oils and jams, as well as breads, pasta, cookies
Kopaz joined the staff at The Cheese Shop 14 years ago, and
worked his way up from helper to chef. He cooks seasonally and
offers daily specials. His customers range from students and
people who work in Concord during the week to local residents
on Saturdays. Because the shop is only licensed for 12 tables, the
majority of purchases are for takeout. A popular event at the shop is
the Friday night dinner club that provides customers with a three-course meal to take home, heat, and enjoy with a paired wine.