Business Monday: Basalt salami facility grinds away for a big future
On any given week, a facility in a Basalt business complex is cranking out 800 pounds of packed salami. If Bill Miner, president and owner of Il Porcellino Salumi, hits the mark he has set, that number will triple.
“We’ve got six or seven distributors around the country waiting to drive our product,” said Miner as he inspected some of the cured meats at the company’s wholesale facility on Cody Lane.
Miner, who runs the Il Porcellino Salumi deli in Berkeley area of Denver, opened up the production operations in Basalt in spring 2018 after building owner Wendy Mitchell offered him the spot.
Mitchell, no stranger to the charcuterie trade and owner of Meat and Cheese Restaurant & Farm Shop, had made her own meats and cheeses there, so Miner considered it a turnkey deal also because he could inherit Mitchell’s USDA license she’d used for her Avalanche Cheese Co.
Miner, a chef as well, also has designs to expand the operations in order to accommodate production of 2,400 pounds of meat a week. That would include the addition of deli meats, summer sausages, bacon and other carnivore-friendly food produced at the Basalt facility.
Il Porcellini gets its Berkshire pork meat from Colorado and Nebraska — which are fed a non-GMO and vegetarian diet — and Monday through Friday, the small staff works away on everything from chopping the meat in the sterile confines of the Basalt operation to stuffing all of the salami that’s prepared in different styles — from “Diablo,” a spicy Italian version, to “Back Truffle,” seasoned with Carboy Malbec Wine and burgundy. The fermentation process to take five or six weeks.
Il Porcellini also can claim some bragging rights, such as its Spiced Juniper winning the 2018 Charcuterie Masters Grand Champion in New York.
Miner spends much of his time in Denver, but he regularly checks in on the Basalt post, where Patrick Kennedy, once the salumiere and cheese-maker at Meat & Cheese, helped as operations manager for the Basalt facility’s first six months. He now works in Denver. Miner also hired Phillip House, who’d been a chef in Aspen, as the Basalt facility’s wholesale production manager.
Having run the Il Porcellino retail shop in Denver for 31/2 years, Miner said the opening wholesale facility was a natural progression.
“Cured meats has always been the basis of the business,” he said. “We wanted to do wholesale, but it happened quicker than we expected.”
Through their connections, Miner, who is from Ohio, and his team has lined up distribution deals for Il Porcellini products in 20 states. Locally, Aspen establishments such as Little Nell Hotel, Clark’s Market, Butcher’s Block and Meat & Cheese carry Il Porcellini salamis. This summer, Il Porcellini’s salami will be sold at the Aspen Saturday Market and the Basalt Sunday Market.
“At this point it’s keeping up with demand,” Miner said, saying he has no desire to sell the business or let it grow so big that the product becomes diluted.
“I think at some point you see the quality of your product and want to be known for it,” he said. “I want us to be known for a high quality, artisanal product that people seek out. And some of the bigger companies, as they grow to ginormous sizes, they lose the quality control. They still might make decent product, but they lose the quality control, and we don’t want that to happen.”
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The Little Nell Hotel Group, a division of Aspen Skiing Co., announced Friday that it purchased seven acres of vacant land at the base of Mammoth Mountain. It plans to build a Limelight hotel and residences. The size hasn’t been disclosed yet.