The Metropolitan Club of the City of Washington now offers an in-house charcuterie program.
Members of The Metropolitan Club of the City of Washington (D.C.) love seeing “house-made” on menus, because it signals quality, freshness, and care. It’s a visual reminder of how the club’s culinary team always seeks to go the extra mile to offer a unique dining experience.
For years, though, “house-made” charcuterie has only applied to the terrines, pâtés, rillettes and confit created by Executive Chef Vincent Horville. But now, thanks to the support of Horville and drive of Executive Sous Chef Brandon Gross, it also applies to some saucisson, chorizo, prosciutto, pancetta and dried salamis.
“Chef [Horville] has a way of finding something you’re passionate about and encouraging you to learn more about it,” says Gross, who has been with The Metropolitan Club for two years. “I’ve always been fascinated by salumi and charcuterie. And while Chef knows a great deal about it, he suggested I learn even more.”
|THE GOAL: The Metropolitan Club of the City of Washington wanted to launch its own in-house charcuterie program.
THE PLAN: Executive Sous Chef Brandon Gross, with the support and direction of Executive Chef Vincent Horville, began experimenting and curing a variety of products. Gross even attended a highly regarded charcuterie class to learn more.
THE PAYOFF: After months of experimenting, the duo perfected a number of items, including some saucisson, chorizo, prosciutto, pancetta and dried salamis that are now being featured as specials, for wine dinners and elsewhere on menus. Metropolitan Club members now enjoy a one-of-a-kind product that pushes the culinary operation forward and showcases the skill, talent and drive of its team.
Gross dove in and attended a highly regarded charcuterie class where he picked the brain of a well-known charcuterie expert. After the class, he returned to the club energized and inspired, and Horville encouraged him to put his new knowledge to work.
“The big takeaway for me was learning how to break down the whole animal for charcuterie cuts and [learning from] someone who has done it all,” says Gross. “Soon after the class, I made this Spanish chorizo that was out of this world. We featured it as part of a Spanish-themed wine dinner, and the members went nuts.
“I think that was my ‘aha’ moment,” he adds. “It was then that we decided to begin our own charcuterie program here at the club.”
To get the in-house program rolling, Gross began scouting for locations within The Metropolitan Club’s seven-story building where meats could be cured. He ultimately retrofitted a refrigerator for dried salamis, and found that the club’s basement wine cellar was the perfect place for hanging prosciuttos and pancetta.
“We did a lot of experimenting before we started serving our products to members,” says Gross, who says that the costs of establishing the program have been minimal. “We started small, but we’re still experimenting. It’s our responsibility to get it right and to teach the culinary team about the process along the way. We’re also educating our health inspectors, to get their support.”
Currently, Gross and his team are working to perfect prosciuttos and other whole-muscle cuts. “These are great, because they don’t have a lot of air pockets for bacteria to hide,” he says. “Plus, there’s a certain entertainment value for members who see these cuts hanging in the wine cellar.”
Gross and Horville’s hopes for further expanding the program include creating wild-game charcuterie in the near future. “Our members are very adventurous, and I think they would enjoy a salami made from wild boar or antelope,” says Gross.
Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte, N.C., became another property that had immediate success with a “Kids in the Kitchen” event when it debuted its version this year as an ongoing attraction. One evening a month, the club now invites 15 member children into the kitchen to work with chefs on the culinary staff and learn the basics of cooking in fun fashion. Myers Park has set up its Kids in the Kitchen series for the year around several themes and products, including Rice Krispies Treats from scratch, homemade pasta, a St. Patrick’s Day “Green Themed” Mystery Basket, Creating the 2018 Pool Signature Dish, and “May the Fourth Be With You” (Star Wars Cooking). Each class starts with a short safety lesson, and kids who attend get an apron for the evening and a chef’s hat with their name on it to keep. The first two classes were sold out within a day of their initial promotion.