The sausage game is strong at Charcuterie by Paradox.
The curing coolers at this venture by Paradox Catering & Cuisine are a cured meat lover’s paradise. Well-known cures like capicola, bresaola, soppressata, pancetta and saucisson sec hang from racks. You can also find lesser-known cured meats such as lonza, speck and cacciatore salami. Deli meats like pastrami are also curing in the meat lockers.
What makes this artisan charcuterie company unique is that each cut is made with locally raised pork and beef.
Think farm to charcuterie board.
“We source our meat from Home Place Pastures,” said Jimmy Gentry, Charcuterie by Paradox chef and co-owner. “Everything we make comes from them exclusively. The meat is amazing, it has marbling throughout."
Charcuterie by Paradox now supplies cured meats and fresh sausages not just for its parent catering company, but for restaurants around town like Greys Fine Cheese and Entertaining, Erling Jensen’s and Panta. Memphis meal-service and catering company Savannah’s Food Co. also uses Charcuterie by Paradox’s products.
You can also pick up some to enjoy at home. Retail packages are currently available at Greys Fine Cheeses and Entertaining and Buster’s Liquors and Wines.
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The back story
Any regular at the now-closed P.O. Press Public House & Provisions will tell you a must-order at brunch was Gentry’s house-cured bacon.
The bacon was an original. Gentry cured and smoked pork belly in-house to make his crispy hickory-smoked bacon. The thick-cut bacon seasoned with brown sugar and salt was crispy, yet melted in your mouth.
As part of the farm-to-table concept of his Collierville restaurant, Gentry dabbled with cured meats, making house-cured and smoked bacon and an occasional item for his locally sourced charcuterie board.
Just before the restaurant opened, he attended a class with renowned butcher Michael Sullivan in Birmingham, Alabama. “I didn’t really need a refresher on butchering, but it was nice to get a hands-on lesson on curing.”
When the restaurant closed in 2019, Gentry put the charcuterie venture of his catering business to the side. Then the pandemic hit.
“When COVID hit, we did not have much to do as far as catering. That’s when this really became its own entity.”
A partner with a passion for the art of curing meat
A call from Mitchell Marable came at just the right time.
Marable, who had been the bartender at P.O. Press, called Gentry and said he was looking for a new direction in his career. The two decided Marable would be the perfect person to take over the charcuterie business as Gentry was starting to get busier again with traditional catering.
“The cool thing is I didn’t have to teach him much. Mitchell had learned a lot from Aaron Winters and Brad McCarley when they had worked together at Porcellino’s,” Gentry said.
“When I started bartending at Porcellino’s, I would go back and bug Aaron and Brad. It started because I wanted to learn how to break down my own game that I hunt so I wouldn’t have to pay someone else to process it,” Marable said.
As he got further into butchering and curing meat, Marable said he kept exploring. “This is a dying trade and I wanted to learn more.”
As Marable wryly describes his position, "I'm just a guy who throws salt at things and makes them edible,” he explains that the art of curing meats reminds him of his childhood spent on a family farm. “It feels like home when I am here in the kitchen.”
Why Memphis chefs are featuring Paradox’s charcuterie
“We wanted to have as many locally sourced items on our menu as possible, said Greys Fine Cheese and Entertaining co-owner Kurt Mullican. “With someone making top notch charcuterie close by, it was naturally a good fit.”
Mullican said Paradox’s range of styles was a huge perk.
“Encased (Salame style), whole muscle, pate ... French, Italian ... you name it. Since we’ve been working with Paradox, we’ve seen their offerings grow alongside the fine tuning of their recipes,” Mullican said. “With our cheeseboards, we want people to get the best cheeses and meats, to get a true cheese and charcuterie board. Working with Jimmy has been a huge part of how we’ve been able to do that. All of our dine-in cheese and charcuterie plates as well as our cheeseboards feature Paradox exclusively.”
Chef Erling Jensen features Paradox’s cured meats like duck pastrami, bresaola and lonza (cured pork tenderloin) on his charcuterie board and in his “amusette” appetizers.
“I can buy from out of town, but why would I when I can get this? This is handcrafted,” said Jensen, adding he thinks Paradox’s pastrami is “out of this world.”
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Paradox also works with clients on specialty items, such as the fresh sausage they make for Chef Kelly English’s Panta.
“Jimmy and his team have worked with us to make us Botifarra, which is a traditional Catalan sausage that is typically served with white beans,” English said.
“From collaborating on size to spice to testing methods, they have done everything in their wheelhouse to get our product perfect. There are few people and organizations that take the care that Paradox does to get whatever they are doing right."
"And ... I highly suggest digging into the Reuben at Greys Fine Cheese to see just what they can do with meat,” English recommended.
Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Charcuterie by Paradox handcrafts cured meats for Memphis restaurants