I first tasted Creminelli Salumis at a Charcuterie Seminar at the 2010 ACS Conference in Seattle. Cristiano was on the panel and his meats were part of an amazing tasting plate that day. Since then, I have enjoyed his meats at least once-a-month and most recently, yesterday. Vanessa Chang, Marketing and Education Director at Creminelli Fine Meats, sent me a selection of their salumis which I made into a lunch platter for my mom, aka Miss Anne, who swooned. The four salumis were Whiskey-flavored, Sopressata, Fennel and Picante. All of Cristiano’s meats are hand-crafted and uncured with no nitrates and no nitrites.
Briefly tell me about yourself.
“I am actually a salumi artisan. My whole family has been salumi artisans since the 1600s in Italy. Though I work with meat, I LOVE CHEESE. I eat cheese everyday. Some of my best friends in Italy are amazing cheesemakers so I am lucky – I can taste the best of both salumi and cheese. Though my cheesemaking friends tell me that if I keep eating so much cheese my skin will turn into a rind.”
Where do you work and what is your job title? Describe a “typical” work day.
“I started Creminelli Fine Meats where I am the Master Artisan. My job is to produce the salumi and also try new recipes with new ingredients.
“I get to the workshop around 5:30am. First thing I do is to check the aging cells and make sure everything is going well. After that I go to check to make sure everything is ready for production – spice, meat, casing, everything. And then we start producing the salami and we finish around 3:30pm. And then it’s Meeting Time! So many meetings for new products, marketing, for operations – there’s always something to do. Usually I go home around 6pm and I like to lay down on the couch with the family dog Woody. My wife, Silvia, tells me I’m lazy, so I start to fix something around the house or the garden, or take Woody for a walk. And sometimes, since my wife loves to cook (and she is such a good one!) I get to taste test EVERYTHING – it’s not really a bad job.”
Do you have a favorite cheese or type? What would be your perfect pairing with this cheese?
“Fontina Val D’Aosta and also Macagno (which is like a Toma). But to be honest, I still can’t find a cheese that I don’t like. Ok, maybe Velveeta, but it’s not actually really cheese. The perfect pairing: salami, of course. With wine (prosecco!), even better. Like an antipasto.”
Raw vs. Pasteurized? Does it matter? What difference does it make in the final product?
“I like raw milk cheese usually. I like it because the flavor is usually richer, especially in the fresher/soft varieties, it is so good. In Val Ferret (in Val D’Aosta) I know this guy with some cows who produces a cheese like Fontina, and when you taste it in the summer it’s amazing and then when you taste it in the winter, it’s completely different, but still amazing, by the way.”
Should the US create a system similar the European scheme of protecting, controlling and/or regulating specific cheeses?
“Depends. I know for a lot of cheese artisans it might be a source of insurance, but it might be expensive so I’m afraid for small producers who might have the money to pay the consortium. For some way yes, for other way, we might diversity of producers.”
Tell me about one of your “cheese journeys”. Was it traveling for pleasure or maybe “on the hunt” for an obscure cheese you just had to taste?
“I remember this one time I had a Toma Piemontese. It was so old it had legs. It had the cheese mites all over it. And when I opened it, it smelled so bad. And I thought “I don’t know if I can eat this.” But then I was with my friend and he insisted I try. And you know what? It was good!. I remember it always, too because I touched my phone right after I touched the cheese and I swear it smelled like that Toma for months afterward.”
Please share with me one fun, non-cheesy fact about you.
“I always have to get out of bed with the left foot. Even if I’m on the right side of the bed, the left foot has to touch the ground first. If I recall later that I didn’t or I’m not sure, I’ll go back to bed and re-do it. I know it’s crazy. My wife tells me it’s crazy.”
If you could do one thing, anything, all day long, what would it be?
“Eating in general. I like to try new food, especially if it’s not a vegetable.”
My thanks to everyone participating in my 2015 Virtual Q&A with Cheese Professionals. I hope all of you, my loyal readers, are enjoying this as much as I am…
Interviews will continue throughout 2015… sometimes, they will be “stand-alone” and sometimes they will be presented as round-table discussions with several Cheese Professionals answering the same question. Those participating include Cheesemakers, ACS CCPs™, Cheesemongers and Cheese Professionals and Experts who contribute to this Wonderful World we call “Cheese”.
List of 2015 Cheese Professionals.
List of all Cheese Professionals Bios.
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Taking the 2015 Exam? Please see my page on Tips for Studying for the Exam.
FTC Full Disclosure – The manufacturer provided samples as a gift, without any obligation on my part to review or mention the product. For more information regarding my acceptance of samples and reviews of products, please visit my “About Me” page.