Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller are the husband-and-wife team behind the Fatted Calf Charcuterie, which opened in 2003 and now has locations in Napa and San Francisco. The couple met at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, then worked for a stint as apprentices to legendary butcher Dario Cecchini (made famous by Bill Buford in his memoir Heat) in Tuscany before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. They have been featured in the New York Times, Food & Wine and Saveur, where the Fatted Calf was included in the editors' annual list of their favorite foods and trends. Visit fattedcalf.com.
Q: How did you become interested in charcuterie?
Taylor: I started working at Café Rouge in Berkeley in the summer of 1999. I wanted to work at a small place that was focusing on really good ingredients and changing their menu up frequently. I thought that I was going to be applying for a line cook or a sous chef position, but the chef actually needed someone to work in the charcuterie that's attached to the restaurant. That was where I started to see that charcuterie was a really important part of the culinary world, and that not many people were doing it. After being there for about four and a half years, my wife Toponia and I began to talk about starting a business.
Q: And you trained in Italy?
Taylor: I met Dario Cecchini about a week after my wife Toponia and I got married in 2001, at the Chez Panisse 30th anniversary party. We made arrangements to visit his store, Antica Macelleria Cecchini in or Panzan, in Chianti, and ended up working there for about few months. He's larger than life, a very talented, very sweet man.
Q: Have you always been interested in charcuterie and butchery? If not, what drew you to it?
Toponia: I was not always interested in butchery and charcuterie. I was actually a vegetarian for about 10 years, up until the time I enrolled in the C.I.A., where I was first introduced to the craft through a seven-day charcuterie course. I was fascinated to learn that you could make your own ham and sausage. And while I didn't immediately run out and join a bacon-of-the-month club, the seed was planted. Later, Taylor wound up working at a charcuterie and then we traveled to Italy where we both worked for a butcher in Chianti. Working and living in Italy pretty much sealed the deal.
Q: Who are some of your culinary influences?
Toponia: It sounds cliché, but Julia Child opened my eyes to a world of unknown foods at a very young age through the magic of television. I am also a voracious reader of cookbooks and have certainly been influenced by Georgeanne Brennan, Paula Wolfert, Anne Bianchi, Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, and countless others.