The Metropolitan Community College of Nebraska at Stagionello®: Michael Combs, the US Executive Chef, UNEARTHS A NOVEL TRADITIONAL AND INNOVATIVE METHOD FOR MEAT PROCESSING.

8/11/2023
The Metropolitan Community College of Nebraska at Stagionello<sup>®</sup>:  Michael Combs, the US Executive Chef, UNEARTHS A NOVEL TRADITIONAL AND INNOVATIVE METHOD FOR MEAT PROCESSING. The Metropolitan Community College of Nebraska at Stagionello<sup>®</sup>:  Michael Combs, the US Executive Chef, UNEARTHS A NOVEL TRADITIONAL AND INNOVATIVE METHOD FOR MEAT PROCESSING.

The Stagionello® Academy in Calabria, Italy, presented the 7th International Masterclass for Traditional Salami, titled ‘Traditional Food Sovereignty and Nutraceuticals,’ which concluded a few weeks ago. The class ran from September 1st to 7th.

The Academy organizes workshops, conferences, and events for industry experts, merchants, end consumers, educational and public institutions. It also offers Scientific, Technical, Technological, and International Master’s courses out of its teaching facilities in Crotone and Milan in authorized classrooms in Italy and abroad.

The Stagionello® company, who specializes in the design, development, and testing of food processing cabinets, has technology-based preservation of traditional food production as one of its objectives. Countering the dietary trend of “industrial foods.”

The training courses offered provide the opportunity to learn about a machine that is innovative in its kind, but above all to rediscover that ancient tradition of food processing linked to nutritious and healthy eating. This is made possible by the Academy and the use of Stagionello® devices, which allow the use of more than 500 microclimatic processes to produce food without any kind of “chemistry” and have been scientifically validated by several Italian universities.

For this reason, the September event was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the trainees, who travelled from as many as five different countries—the United States, Denmark, South Africa, the Czech Republic, and Ireland—for a week of extensive training to learn the trade secrets of authentic artisan craftsmanship. Michael Combs, the Executive Chef at the Metropolitan Community College of Nebraska’s Institute for the Culinary Arts, was one of them.
Michael experienced an authentic cultural journey as he fully submerged himself in a setting with the other participants. Appreciating the history of the Calabrian norcina tradition, which traces the culture’s origins through a diffused and ancestral line that has influenced America throughout history, is important. The Chef shared his knowledge with us during our talk with him after the Masterclass.

Michael Combs declared, “It really blew my mind and that is not a figure of speech. Everything was taken care of in detail.” I had always wanted to make salami and gammon like I saw it in person, but much more, I’d like to know where these foods originated. I learned what I needed to know during this Masterclass to be able to duplicate that simplicity and genuine heritage so close to nature. This is due to the fact that the food’s narrative is told throughout the entire production process.

 

A ‘unique’ Masterclass thoroughly enjoyed along with the full Stagionello® team, focused on food quality, applied technology, and, above all, animal husbandry.

“It was fantastic to come here; I learned so much more than I could have imagined.” All the staff that assisted me were highly knowledgeable. Even those who did not attend the lectures were well-versed in the facilities’ characteristics.

 

What they uncovered and experienced in Calabria, between Crotone, Casabona, Cotronei, and Sersale, pleased all of the participants, and were particularly enthusiastic to explore the areas surrounded by unspoiled beauty, rich in historic culture.

Michael Combs described how his perspective on food had radically transformed. This was also achieved by discovering herbs like fennel, pink and black pepper, oregano, and rosemary, which would eventually impart flavours to the cured meats prepared during the course of the event.

“Seeing the technology of today linked to the history of 2000 years ago, in one week, I think it would change anyone’s life”.

What participants experienced in Cotronei was evocative and memorable. Immersion in a return to the origins: a one-of-a-kind and all-encompassing experience. Students at the Academy were exposed to a wide range of traditional products and the southern tradition of cured meats crafted by hand, starting with the natural breeding of Apulian pigs from Calabria.

They were able to watch traditional jobs that are rapidly being abandoned by industry. We’re talking about preparing authentic cheeses, bread, and foods from traditional family hearths; activities that aren’t random, but the consequence of a strong connection to the love of authenticity, a virtue worthy of passing down to future generations.

All of this is possible thanks to the lengthy project behind the Stagionello® Academy and Alessandro Cuomo, who has been able to transmit not only concepts related to Stagionello®’s applied technology but also ideas and lifestyles, through his innovative and pioneering Method, for which Arredo Inox is a licensee.

“Alessandro Cuomo is an absolute genius. Not only for the technology but also for the way he has managed to combine elements of tradition with modernity. Humidity, air, and temperature were characteristics we knew were important in curing but no one had thought about reproducing technologically to preserve the authenticity of these foods. No one had previously worked on the pH of food; it was difficult to imagine how to construct this type of technology”.

 

Combs spoke of a true change in paradigm, expressing his admiration for the human aspect: ‘you can see that he (Alessandro Cuomo n.d.r.) believes in the value of feeding for the good of people. Not for the sake of greed or gain’.

 

 

The future partnership between the Stagionello® company and the North American Chef is already in the works. Michael Combs has decided to build an Academy in the United States using Alessandro Cuomo’s applied technology and pioneering method, where he will teach the knowledge gained during the Masterclass in Italy.

A significant milestone for the entire Stagionello® family, which continues to export all over the world, not just a cutting-edge and new technology in meat processing, but a true method capable of fusing ‘tradition to future’.

Stagionello® expands the number of individuals trained, offering equipment, technology services, equipment consulting, validation services for new products for those who already own Stagionello technology, and training and consulting to secure licenses, certifications, and validations to manufacture their own branded food.