You know you have a winner when a product successfully transports you before the first bite. That was my experience when I learned of the latest addition to Schaller & Webber’s growing SKUs—a spicy, spreadable salami called ‘Nduja.
Connecting with Vice President Jesse Denes and Director of R&D Harald Nagel, I was instantly hit with wanderlust for both Deutschland and Calabria as they introduced me to the new offering.
“‘Nduja is a traditional Calabrian salami we both sold in our NYC store and had incorporated in dishes at our restaurant, Blume. With the amount we were selling, the decision to make a stand alone product wasn’t a huge leap for us,” Jesse shares. “It's a spicy cured salami spread, which makes a great retail set paired with our recently introduced Mousse de Foie Gras.”
When I ask about crafting the flavor of the ‘Nduja, Harald tells me it is a true labor of love.
“The Calabrian pepper is a wonderful flavor to work with, and it didn't take a lot of experimentation to find the heat and flavor profile we were looking for,” he recalls. “To find the correct consistency however, we went through a number of different production processes. Running the pork through the chopper, like with our teewurst, offered less control and yielded results that were too fine. Grinding was better but left behind too much gristle. Eventually we landed on a multi-step process that resulted in a smooth, spreadable product that retained some ‘body,’ some bite.”
Harald, who grew up in butcher shops and studied food science in Germany, brings with him an in-depth knowledge of charcuterie and flavor experimentation. Coupled with President Jeremy Schaller’s family history that spans 85-years-long in the crafted meat business, this next step in product innovation is as much a legacy as it is an experiment.
“It’s definitely not what we’re known for, but it is salami, and we’ve been producing salami for decades so this isn’t really out of our comfort zone, nor is it pushing beyond our typical capabilities either. While it’s probably unexpected, for us it feels like an organic extension of what we have been providing for so long,” Jesse tells me.
The company quietly began rolling out the new ‘Nduja in mid-August, with plans for full distribution, and consumer appreciation, in time for holiday demand. And it sounds like there is plenty more coming out of the inspired minds of Schaller & Weber in the months ahead.
“I love the research that goes into it,” Harald shares when I ask how the creativity keeps coming. “The challenge of investigating the product and origins, researching new flavors and recipes, is one of the most exciting parts of the job. Not to mention the sourcing. Then I get to put it all together, bring my experience and techniques to it and, when it works out, create something delicious.”
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