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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
I hate whistling in the kitchen.