Making It: Slicing Up Artisan Meats & Sausage At Saucisson

Maker: Melissa Khoury, owner    
Business:
Saucisson, an artisan butcher shop in the Slavic Village neighborhood of Cleveland

You come from a large family, and food always played a large role. How did your interest in food evolve to where it is today?

From a young age, I was always hanging out in the kitchen with either my grandmother or my mom. So I was always around food. And going into high school, trying to think about what was I going to do with my life, I realized I enjoyed cooking, so I pursued that path. And it wasn't until moving to Orlando and working for an amazing chef, Kathleen Blake, that I realized there's this whole other world of farm-to-table and sourcing locally and restaurants that are doing in-house butchering. I was very, very privileged to be able to learn a lot of those things within the restaurants that I worked. Then the rest was just kind of like, ‘I think I like meat and the butchering side more than I like cooking.’ Don't get me wrong, I still love to cook, and I cook for family and friends. But on a professional level, providing your main part of the plate is something that's really attractive to me. And then being able to connect people with local farms is the number one thing on my plate right now.

Khoury outside the Saucisson storefront in Slavic Village. [Saucisson]

And why is that piece about supporting local farms so important to you?

The biggest thing about it is that I know exactly what I am giving to the customer. I've been on these farms. I have relationships with these farmers. I know what they're doing to the animals, how they're raising them, how they're feeding them, how they treat them. And that is something that's extremely important to me, because I feel that I have the confidence to tell my customers, ‘I know that this animal was well taken care of. And the end result is that you're going to enjoy that product a little bit more than you would just commodity beef or pork or chicken.’ And it's more nutrient-dense. That’s really the bottom line. I mean, we're allowing these animals to grow at the rate that they're intended to grow instead of packing them full of hormones and antibiotics to boost that along. You know, supporting small is a little bit more expensive sometimes, but at the end of the day it's going to impact how you feel, honestly.

Connecting local farmers to her customers is Khoury's top priority. [Saucisson]

Once you discovered your true passion and went with it, how did you decide you wanted to start your own business?

I was the chef at Washington Place Bistro, and I was trying my best to do in-house butchering and charcuterie making and all of these things. And I just never had enough time. And I thought, this just doesn't make sense. I’m trying to do this chef thing, but I’m also trying to do this butcher thing, and I couldn’t be two people. I wasn’t happy trying to do all of it. So I quit my job in September of 2013, and by December 7th of that same year, I had figured everything out and started Saucisson. And I was selling at farmers’ markets and pop up events, basically anyone who would let me set up my table and sell my meats. Then I convinced a dear friend of mine, Penny Barend Tagliarina, to move from California to Cleveland to be on this crazy meat adventure with me. And we started something amazing. We just celebrated four years in the shop. This past December we celebrated seven years in business, which is huge to think that I just quit my job on a whim and if I failed, I failed. It’s mind blowing sometimes. And I have to pinch myself.

Khoury with Penny Barend Tagliarina, who is now the chef at Terrestrial Brewing Company. [Saucisson]

After the first few years of building up your business, how did you decide where you wanted to open your storefront?

Ohio City and Tremont, they're amazing. They're beautiful. Rent is really expensive. But also they just felt really, really crowded already, you know, already developed. And so, we really wanted to find a neighborhood that was still a true neighborhood. Somebody reached out to us and we found Slavic Village and we fell in love with it. This neighborhood is by far one of the most ragged on and just looked at in so many different ways, but just like Tremont used to be. I think sometimes we forget about that, like Ohio City and Tremont, I wasn't allowed in when I was a kid by myself after dark. So, you know, neighborhoods go through ebbs and flows. And if we don't support them, then we'll lose them altogether.

Saucisson is located on Fleet Ave. in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood. [Saucisson]

Now after seven years of running Saucisson, what’s been your favorite part of the business?

At the end of the day, knowing that the money that we're spending supports small farms, then we turn around and cut beautiful steaks and pork chops to then feed to our customers who we know. The relationships that we've built and that human interaction is huge. And I think one of the biggest things that keeps me going is also supporting a more eco-friendly way of eating meat and consuming meat and making sure that my impact on what I'm consuming is not that of commodity farms. So I really feel like it's the connections that we make, not just with the farmer and the people that we buy stuff from but all the way down to the customers. That in itself is awesome.

Handmade sausages, with unique flavors that rotate weekly, have become one of the butchery's most popular items. [Saucisson]

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