Interview with New York Rising Star Artisan Fred Maurer of Dickson's Farmstand Meats

by Sean Kenniff
February 2015

Sean Kenniff: How did you get your start cooking?
Fred Maurer:
I’m from Ohio. I was a theatre kid growing up. Ended up going to culinary school. I’ve been cooking for six years now.

SK: How long have you worked at Dickson’s?
FM:
I’ve been at Dickson’s a year and half, revamping and improving the charcuterie, making it more consistent.

SK: What’s the philosophy behind the charcuterie program here?
FM:
To reach the wide American palate while also putting my European influences in there, especially the French. That’s my focus here. I’m still learning; there’s always something new to discover. I’d like to go back to France. It’s the root and source of inspiration for everything I do and love. 

SK: You trained in Paris after culinary school?
FM:
After I graduated from [the French Culinary Institute], I worked for Harold Dieterle and then Brian Bistrong. Working for them pointed my career in the direction it’s gone, especially regarding with whom I’ve worked with since then. In Paris, I trained with Christophe Léautey at Léautey Charcuterie. I’m grateful Christophe took me in despite the language difference. I learned a lot from trailing him. That’s actually how I met Gilles Verot. Leautey is his brother-in-law.

SK: What’s your favorite meat product that you’ve made?
FM:
At work, our Schweinebach, a slow-roasted pork belly stuffed with bologna. At home, I’ve been known to make a pretty decent fried chicken.

SK: And your favorite tool in the Dickson’s kitchen?
FM:
Our 30-pound sausage stuffer. I crank out about 300 pounds of sausage a week by hand.

SK: Is there a particular cooking resource you like?
FM:
I could watch “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home” over and over. It’s old-school French cookery, and frankly, their banter is hilarious. I also love watching “America’s Test Kitchen” because it doesn’t pander to the viewer, and it is too gosh darn funny. I also like looking backwards at food my mom or grandma would have made. I love The Joy of Cooking as a starting place when making a new dish.

SK: What’s the biggest daily challenge facing you at Dickson’s?
FM: The biggest challenges are space issues. We get in 8,000 pounds of meat a week. 10 pigs, 4 lambs, etc. We’d like to start supplying more restaurants, but we need more production space.

SK: What’s your kitchen pet peeve?
FM:
I hate whistling in the kitchen.