Meet one of the greatest charcutiers in the country: Lusca’s Jonathan Sellitto

The 32-year-old New Jersey native started his career on an Italian hog farm
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Although charcuterie is the passion of young chefs, it’s the professional butchers who salt, smoke, and grind with greater success. To find the best of both worlds—someone with the skills of a butcher and the mind of a chef—you’ll need to meet Jonathan Sellitto, who oversees the charcuterie at Lusca.
The career of this 32-year-old New Jerseyan started on a hog farm in Italy, where he learned to make sausages. Once back in the States, he mastered old-school techniques to craft charcuterie mindful of temperature, stability, and spreadability at Barbara Lynch’s Butcher Shop in Boston. In March 2014, he moved here to work with his friend and Lusca’s chef-owner Angus Brown.

Photograph by Ben Rollins
Photograph by Ben Rollins

In the time Sellitto learned his craft, Atlanta learned to appreciate a new wave of cured meats, adding to the South’s indigenous charcuterie of country ham, fatback, smoked hog jowl, and ham hocks. The credit goes to Todd Immel, executive chef at Floataway Cafe, who jump-started our obsession fifteen years ago in a defunct restaurant in College Park.

We’ve come a long way since then, and Sellitto’s creations are the pinnacle of meat boards, such as Italian-style lonza (cured and air-dried pork loin), unctuous mortadella made with pork or rabbit, terrines of foie gras and peaches, and a mesmerizing veal and dried apricot pâté wrapped in thin slices of potato and dusted with fennel pollen.

His crown jewel is his poultry en croute: a grind of duck, chicken, squab, dried cherries, and a sweet wine aspic baked in a rich crust. Original and beautiful, it’s what American charcuterie should be and a point of pride for its maker, who is surely one of the most gifted charcutiers in the country.

Clockwise from top left: rabbit mortadella studded with pistachios and fatback, grilled house bread, poultry and fine herb rillette, smoked pork terrine
Clockwise from top left: rabbit mortadella studded with pistachios and fatback, grilled house bread, poultry and fine herb rillette, smoked pork terrine

Photograph by Johnny Autry

 

Other meats around town
Patak Meat Products

Try: Hungarian salami
Heywood’s Provision Co.
Try: peppered bacon
The Spotted Trotter­
Try: crépinette
Pine Street Market
Try: country ham
Star Provisions
Try: country terrine

This article originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

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