Happy Animals, Tasty Meat

PEI Charcuterie brings 2017 food trend to the Island

As food trends go, charcuterie will remain a hot one in 2017 according to a poll of 1,300 US chefs. That’s good news for Island food entrepreneurs and farmers, Karine Arsenault and Jordan Liantzakis. The couple launched PEI Charcuterie last month and are eager to share their ethically-raised, value-added meat product with Island chefs, locals, and visitors.

“He is really good at charcuterie,” Arsenault said, referring to her partner, Liantzakis, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada. “And we love to feed people. We want to give them something we want to eat [ourselves]. We don’t want them to eat more meat, but to be able to make better choices.”

The couple are no strangers to the world of food. They already own and operate Papia Papa Free-Range Duck Farm in Crapaud, PEI. Both ‘from away’, Liantzakis and Arsenault met in Charlottetown – he was here to study and she was in search of a change in lifestyle – and fell in love. The duo decided to combine their skillsets and soon after launched into the adventure of starting a family and a duck farm.

Karine Arsenault and Jordan Liantzakis of PEI Charcuterie

Karine Arsenault and Jordan Liantzakis of PEI Charcuterie                             Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

Today, they have four kids, about 50 ducks (a genetic line of Pekin ducks originally from France), a couple of geese and two chickens that live in the family’s kitchen during the winter.

When Arsenault and Liantzakis talk about their ducks the first thing you notice is their passion, love and respect for the animals. You can hear it in their voices and feel it in the description of their farming philosophy. An important part of that philosophy is not to transport live animals; the couple stands firmly behind this.

“We don’t want to cause the animals any stress [from the transport],” Arsenault said. For this reason, the couple hold their own licenses for poultry and livestock slaughter and kill all of their animals on-farm. You could call it destiny, then, that Liantzakis and Arsenault, whose field of expertise is human behaviour, found the perfect spot for their endeavour in an old farm in Crapaud that included a slaughterhouse.

Happy, slow-growing animals being raised in a natural and environmentally-friendly way is what Papia Papa stands for. Respecting the environment is a business priority – reduced water usage through dry-plucking and air-chilling of the meat is just one component, alongside the concept of minimal waste and ‘green’ packaging.

The farm itself doesn’t have any fences. “Our animals are respectfully handled, free-range, never given antibiotics, growth promotants or hormones, and are always vegetarian-fed. They have the right to leave if they are not happy with you,” said Arsenault. Apparently they stay.

Three years after launching their duck farm, the couple is taking another leap into uncharted territory with their new venture. Just as there was no commercially-available, local duck meat before Papia Papa, there is nothing in the local marketplace that compares to the charcuterie they are producing from their own duck meat and that of other livestock – Toulouse geese and heritage breed pigs – from Island farmers who share their animal husbandry philosophies.

A charcuterie plate featuring cured meats from PEI Charcuterie and sheep's cheese from Isle Saint Jean Farm

Charcuterie plate featuring PEI Charcuterie meats and sheep cheese from Isle Saint Jean Farm.                        Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

This time around, however, Arsenault and Liantzakis have an important advantage – they are now well-recognized within the Island culinary scene, thanks to the high-quality, flavourful duck meat they’ve been producing. Well-known chefs across the Island have been enthusiastically integrating the duck meat into their menus. Chef Michael Smith, for example, is a big supporter of the family business, and their product was featured in various Fall Flavour Festival events last year. The ethics that Papia Papa’s reputation is built on are fully transferrable to PEI Charcuterie.

The charcuterie line will offer terrines, pâtés, various salamis and more – everything a classic charcuterie board could ask for. The recipes are Liantzakis’ own flavour combinations inspired by local ingredients sourced from other PEI farmers. There is a salami with foraged chanterelles and porcini mushrooms supplied by Everything Wild. Eureka Garlic has become a staple in their products. And while their chili peppers are currently imported from Calabria, Italy, Heart Beet Organics is growing an extra fifty chili pepper plants specifically for PEI Charcuterie this season. Their most out-of-the-box flavour, however, might be their lamb salami, which will be made with meat from Isle Saint-Jean Farm, and incorporates their sheep cheese too.

PEI Charcuterie will be available for sale at the Farm Centre’s new night market come June and details about the products can be found on their website. If PEI Charcuterie’s line of products stacks up to the quality of the couple’s fresh duck meat, they’ll be amongst those carving out an important space in PEI’s local food system for ethically-raised, delicious meat. Jessica L. Fritz

About Jessica Fritz

Jessica is “from away” in the truest sense of its meaning: her roots are in Germany. She immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2010 and only recently moved to PEI. As a passionate home cook Jessica likes to explore different types of cuisines including her native one. “Thinking globally, buying locally” is her foodie mantra and growing her own veggies will be her next big adventure. Putting words on paper has always been a way to express herself. Hence, writing for Salty combines her love for food and the written word while at the same time discovering PEI’s thriving culinary landscape.

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