Founders’ Delicatessen aims to provide Islanders an authentic deli experience at Founders’ Food Hall and Market

“PEI meats, PEI made.” It’s a simple, plain-spoken slogan, but it holds a lot of meaning to Island butchers Brad Doiron and Alan MacLean. The two are getting ready to launch Founders’ Delicatessen, a locally-sourced deli set to open in Charlottetown’s new Founders’ Food Hall and Market this summer.

For Doiron, whose family roots are in PEI, the opening will mark the hopeful beginning of a career in the province’s meat industry. Since moving from Ontario last year, he’s spent time connecting with the local culinary community, doing butchery at Sim’s Steakhouse in Charlottetown several days a week, and teaming up with the PEI Certified Organic Cooperative to offer cooking workshops.

When MacLean, owner of the wholesale shop The Butcher’s Stop in Mount Stewart, approached Doiron with the idea of a deli at Founders’, Doiron eagerly agreed to go in as a business partner. “His perspective really jived with what I’m all about,” Doiron explained.

The two-stall shop intends to fill a gap in PEI’s charcuterie market. “We are kind of going for the European, German-style approach,” he said. With a focus on smoked and cured meats, sausages, sandwiches, and a plethora of other products they plan to “test the waters with,” Islanders can expect an authentic delicatessen experience.

So far, the response from the public has been promising. “I’ve heard a lot of people saying they’re excited to have a deli… a proper deli here,” Doiron remarked. Luckily for those awaiting the opening, building a clientele and creating a relationship with customers are top priorities for the shop. “Larger stores have built it so people can come in and grab their product—it’s quick. I’m happy to talk and talk and talk about meat. It’s giving that more direct customer service,” Doiron said enthusiastically.

Outside of the deli, the business partners share a lot of similar passions. As whole animal butchers, they are committed to using the entire animal in their craft. Where Doiron’s interest in whole animal butchery is rooted in environmental concern, MacLean values the sustainability of the craft, along with how cost effective it is. He purchases whole pigs from two main local farms, utilizing everything on the animal from the meat to the bones. Often, he’ll buy older sows. Although the sows aren’t typically used, MacLean understands that they’re actually much better for sausage production. “The meat of older animals has a higher pH level, which reacts better when you’re trying to emulsify proteins,” explained Doiron. “We’re always talking about meat production and the chemistry behind it. Alan is a real meat nerd like me. His recipes are his recipes—he’s not buying packaged spices.”

Reaching “meat nerd” status wasn’t an immediate process for Doiron. It was at Saslove’s Meat Market in Ottawa, a family-run institution, that he had his first experience behind the counter as a teenager. The young Doiron knew he enjoyed the job but never imagined creating a career out of it. Instead, he went on to study forestry and environmental management, eventually finding a position with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) working with certification programs and systems.

After several years with the government, a desire for a change of pace led Doiron back into the world of butchery. When asked to pinpoint a moment he felt the job was right for him, Doiron has an immediate answer. “Definitely when I was in Vancouver and started working at Pasture to Plate, a certified organic butcher shop,” he said. It was there he realized that butchery, along with the added benefit of his science background, could provide a rewarding profession. His experience at the CFIA only further fostered an interest in food sustainability. “Just seeing the way the industries are built…money is the only concern for them, and it removes a lot of integrity,” he said.

When talking about the venture, Doiron’s enthusiasm is contagious. It’s not hard to tell that his faith in Founders’ Delicatessen is strong. Between he and MacLean, there are almost 60 years of experience in the meat business. “We know what we’re doing,” he said. “We have a good product now. We’re going to go forward with that and build a clientele…get a name for myself here as someone who sells meat and hopefully expand down the road.”

To keep up with the progress of Founders’ Delicatessen, follow their Instagram account (@founders.delicatessen) or Facebook page (Founders Delicatessen)

About Molly Pendergast

As a self-proclaimed "broke bon vivant," Molly spends a lot of time thinking about food, talking about food, and trying new food. She is a recent graduate of Carleton University's Journalism School and loves nothing more than telling/listening to a good story. If you ever need to chat with her, the topic of baked goods is usually a great place to start.

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