Interview with Boston Rising Star Artisan Joshua Smith of New England Charcuterie

by Caroline Hatchett
April 2015

Caroline Hatchett: How many pounds of meat are you processing?
Joshua Smith:
Two thousand, with six outlets for distribution so far [as of July 2014]. It took two years to get USDA certification. That’s what it takes to wholesale these products, and why it hasn’t been done before in New England; there are no small manufacturers doing it, just a handful chefs.  

CH: What’s the most important equipment you’ve acquired for your business?
JS:
Our oven is a custom designed Enviropac, out of Oregon. It’s the single greatest piece of equipment we have. It hot smokes, cold smokes, and cooks, all in the same piece of equipment. It records the whole time, you can really geek out on the data.

CH: What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
JS:
The unknown. What’s the next drama. What’s the next catastrophe?

CH: What's your five-year plan?
JS:
For me, the model is going to be opening a wine bar/small plates place next door. It’s the market-restaurant concept. I want to build a commissary. We’ll continue to have large wholesale account for a few items. I want to control quantity; we make such small quantities. There are tons of larger businesses that we do platters for; it’s a big piece of our business that I want to grow. 

CH: How did you get your start in the food business?
JS:
I worked for Dean & DeLuca when I was 19. I was doing production: soups, salads etc. The butcher didn’t show up one day, and the chef asked me to work in the butcher shop. I started cutting meat, and he taught me to take trim and make pâté. I was so blown away, that you could use trim and scrap to make something beautiful.

I hitchhiked across the country, learning. I messed around in France; French Master Chef Charles Semail taught me. He set me up at his house. While he slept, I worked. I was so excited to be there, I didn’t miss a thing. 

CH: Do you grow/raise any of the produce/animals you use in your products?
JS:
The DeWolf brothers are my close friends. They’re landscape architects. As a project, we carved out a small piece of land. We grow on three acres to feed pigs and ourselves. We grow peppers and ferment them for hot sauce. They built a trout pond just because, and we started raising rabbits and pheasants. It’s just for us. We have a fun arrangement; it’s just 45 minutes south of here.