Charcuterie Masters 2017 Featured Competitor: Ari Miller of 1732 Meats (Lansdowne, PA)
Rather than playing sports, this California native grew up going on food expeditions with his father, trekking the Napa Valley in search of a greasy spoon.
Food has always been a large part of Ari Miller’s life, but it wasn’t until he graduated law school that it became a career.
He had worked for banks for more than a decade before the Great Recession led Miller to go to law.
After graduating law school in 2013, he told his mother, a judge, that he did not want to go into law.
“I learned the last thing I wanted to do was be a lawyer,” Miller said. Prior to this, Miller had owned a laundromat and several rental properties, always looking for side businesses. So Miller, who had been making bacon for more than a decade, started 1732 Meats.
“This was the first side project that when I got up in the morning, it energized me more than anything I had ever done.”
At first, Miller was making his bacon in 20-pound batches using a dorm room refrigerator converted into a curing chamber. Miller laughed as he remembered hanging slabs of pancetta in he and his wife’s bathroom.
He began selling his Garlic Insanity bacon at Lansdowne Farmers Market, outside Philadelphia. It wasn’t long until he attracted a legion of repeat customers.
“That’s when we realized we had something good on our hands,” Miller said.
So in 2014, Miller left the bank for good and devoted himself to 1732 Meats. Gone is the one cubic yard refrigerator, in is the 700-square-foot curing chamber that’s part of his new 10,000-square-foot USDA inspected warehouse.
The expanded facility allowed Miller to expand his offerings, including lamb prosciutto, which was named a winner in the charcuterie category at the Good Food Awards, held in January in San Francisco.
The lamb is sourced from a nearby farmer in Pennsylvania and Miller uses only Berkshire pork in his pork charcuterie. Miller said the quality of the fat in the Berkshire pork is unrivaled. “In charcuterie, the fat becomes absolute butter.”
Miller now makes four types of unsmoked bacon—Garlic Insanity, Jalapeno, Black Peppercorn and Spanish Smoked Paprika—but he said his favorite is still the original. The lamb prosciutto and rosemary lonza, a dry-cured pork loin, round out Miller’s list of favorites.
About 95 percent of 1732 Meats’ business is done wholesale to distributors, retails and restaurants, with the remaining five percent coming from farmers markets.
Despite all his recent accolades and success, Miller said he has no plans to open a retail shop.
“I like being on the wholesale side of things,” he said. “I really enjoy being married.”
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