When Beechview's Crested Duck Charcuterie launched a Kickstarter funding program in September to help pay for USDA certification, Oliver Griswold was one of the first to chip in.
The owner of North Woods Ranch, which raises cattle and pigs about 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh, says it is difficult to find meat-processing facilities he trusts. All slaughterhouses require the certification of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; most process meat (which, in addition to the kill, includes gutting and butchering) in ways Griswold abhors.
"A lot of the meat-processing places haven't really caught up to where we want to be," he says.
For a lot of small farmers and ranchers, like Griswold, that means processing the meat naturally, saving all the animal's parts and butchering it into the cuts they (and cooks) want. "I've got to haul animals all the way to Harrisburg to get clean recipes," Griswold says. "It's not optimal."
Kevin Costa, Crested Duck's chef and owner, wants to provide an alternative to the approach of existing processing facilities. As part of an expansion of his two-year-old charcuterie, he is applying for USDA approval. That certification will not only allow him to ship his products out of state and supply outlets like Giant Eagle, it will also mean farmers can skip the last step at the processing facilities and bring the meat to his shop for custom cuts.
"That won't necessarily have a huge profit margin for us, but I feel like it is something that is so needed," Costa says.
To get the certification, Costa is upgrading his Beechview shop, including installing equipment in his dry-age room to control its temperature and humidity. His Kickstarter campaign — which ends Oct. 22 — seeks to recoup some of that investment cost, and provide the capital he needs to expand seating for Sunday-brunch service.
Costa is offering several premiums to investors, ranging from a pound of bacon, a private brunch, dinner for two or an in-home four-course dinner for six. As of press time, Costa had nearly reached his $7,500 goal.
Griswold, for one, is looking forward to the goal being attained.
"It's a means of expanding the sales [and] distribution of really good local products," he says.