Ben Runkle

Executive Chef & Owner, Salt & Time

By Kimberly Giles

How did your interest in Charcuterie begin?

Strangely enough, it started when I was a vegan in my early twenties. I was always making vegan jerky, bacon, sausage etc. When I decided to start eating meat again, I wanted to understand what I was eating from start to finish which lead me to becoming a butcher and charcutier.

What regional ingredients do you utilize in your charcuterie?

I love chili pequin, they have such a fantastic citrusy flavor to compliment the heat. We also use maguey sap (raw agave nectar ) for our smoked hams. It has a really complex flavor with fruity and herbal flavors. It makes a great ham glaze.

What is your optimal Charcuterie board presented with?

I generally like a combination of a hard salami, a cured whole muscle (prosciutto, coppa, etc.) a soft pate and something smoked. I think this covers the spectrum of charcuterie and offers a balance of flavors. I like to pair it with crostini or gnocco fritto. If I’m feeling really decadent, a strong whole grain mustard, some good pickles and a glass of dry Lambrusco.

What community organization are you inspired by or involved with?

I have worked with Urban Roots for many years and I really admire the work they do. Recently, I have been incredibly impressed and inspired by the work Jose Andres and World Central Kitchen have been doing. I’ve never worked with them, but they are setting an amazing example of how chefs can be at the forefront of helping communities in crisis.

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