The Cure for the Common Career

A Bensonhurst native makes his own charcuterie.

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Growing up in an Italian family in Bensonhurst, Scott Bridi always felt “the spirit of charcuterie.” It was hanging in the neighborhood’s many pork stores and on his family dinner table every night. But eight years ago he was working a desk job in publishing.

“It wasn’t exactly fulfilling,” he recalls, so he quit to find a career in food, despite zero experience. Starting from a nonpaying job in the Lower East Side kitchens of ’inoteca, he worked his way up to sous-chef, then scored a gig at Gramercy Tavern. Two years later, when the restaurant started its in-house butchery program to make use of whole animals, Bridi volunteered for sausage duty.

“We didn’t really know what we were doing,” he says modestly of their first few attempts, but if the glowing reviews for Gramercy’s succulent brats, spicy merguez and house-smoked bacon are any indication, the crew learned fast. For Bridi, it was an epiphany: “Every chef is naturally given to some activity.” Until that moment, “I hadn’t really found mine.”

Now he has; Bridi launched his own charcuterie line last year: delectable sausages, smoked pork rillettes and country pâtés sold under the brand Brooklyn Cured, making everything, for now, in Hell’s Kitchen at Piccinini Bros., an 89-year-old butcher shop where he scored a deal on working space. (They’re hoping to start a sausage program, so Bridi is swapping expertise for working space).

Bridi transforms local meats into impressive offerings: chicken and garlic sausages as full of flavor as a roast bird; slender links of lamb and black olive that conjure up the Mediterranean; rustic pâtés that melt in your mouth the way only pork fat can. He sells through basisfoods.com and can be found on Saturdays at the Brooklyn Flea and the new Foodshed Sunday farmers market at 388 Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill.

In addition to fantastic fresh sausages (and pickles, “because that’s what you want to eat with sausage,”) he’s got plans for aged and dry-cured products in the near future, and, should you care to find out whether curing is also your own calling, you can take one of his monthly sausage-making classes at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Kitchen.

Photo credit:  Michael Harlan Turkell.

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Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.