From Chef to Charcutier
Ballarat’s award winning charcutier Mick Nunn tells Richard Cornish how he chased a dream.
Mick Nunn loved being a chef.
But in 20 years of cooking with some of Australia’s best restaurants, he most loved making terrines, pates, and sausages.
So Mick turned his passion for smallgoods into an award-winning charcuterie business that makes 22 different types of Italian and French smallgoods.
Today, Mick employs 10 people at his Ballarat smallgoods studio, supplying retail and food service under the Salt Kitchen and Mr. Cannubi brands.
“I was always working in European-based kitchens,” says Mick. “I never did Middle Eastern or Asian. I kept returning to how the Europeans used salt, skin, smoke, and spices to preserve and transform raw meat into something even more delicious than the sum of its parts.”
Mick worked under chef Guy Grossi when the family first took over Melbourne’s iconic Florentino restaurant. There he met Frank Camorra (Movida) and Brigitte Hafner (Tedesca Osteria), who were his colleagues.
“Guy Grossi and Roddy (Head chef and Guy’s brother-in-law Chris Rodriguez) taught me so much about the importance of tradition, precision, and patience when making charcuterie and smallgoods,” says Mick, who later worked at Movida before heading to Europe to follow his passion.
In 2012, Mick financed an extensive working trip to study under master charcutiers in France.
“I wanted to experience working in a French charcuterie to upskill and better understand the whole process.,” he said.
“I spent time in Gascony and the Basque country gaining knowledge, learning new techniques, and being inspired by people that have made charcuterie their entire lives.
“I was now ready to start Salt Kitchen Charcuterie.”
Mick started product testing in 2014 in his hometown of Ballarat, where excellent local produce has driven his success. Salt Kitchen Charcuterie started trading in 2015 and Mick hasn’t looked back.
He has strong relationships with local meat growers, particularly Western Plains Pork in Mount Mercer and Sher Wagyu in Ballan.
“Like all businesses, we need more staff,” says Mick. “But the hardest thing has been keeping up with regulations. Being in this business is 10 times harder than being in food service.”
Last week, Mick collected a swag of gold medals at the Australian Meat Industry Council’s inaugural Charcuterie Excellence Awards, including the judges’ Best in Category for his Fiocco, an Italian style dry aged ham.
“When you do what you love for a living, I think you’re doing well.”