When Olympic Provisions opened in 2009 inside the Olympic Mills building, it was the first USDA-approved salumeria in the state of Oregon. In the last few years, others have followed suit. But Olympic Provisions salami, cured under the watchful eye of master salumist Elias Cairo and run by Portland restaurateur Nate Tilden and a crew of partners, is fast becoming one of the leading artisan producers in the country. You’ll find their crimson-hemmed logo everywhere from Fred Meyer superstores to French cooking legend Alain Ducasse’s Michelin-starred kitchens.
Eat Beat has just learned that Olympic Provisions will be moving into the 33,000 square-foot Tazo Building in Southeast Portland in order to meet demand and ramp up production. Cairo was cranking out 100 pounds of meat a day back in 2009, distributing to one or two restaurants in town. That number is closer to five thousand now with product in every state in America, and is expected to quadruple with the new facility.
Olympic Provisions also brings word of several new product lines:
1. Big Meat: Large-format salamis like 3-inch-thick Oregon hazelnut “Noisette” and Sicilian lemon zest-pistachio along with whole-muscle meats like prosciutto and sweetheart ham to be sliced at deli counters from Seattle to New York.
2. Chicken: The pork masters are branching into the poultry world, offering the likes of sherry-chicken liver mousse, boudin blanc sausage, and pheasant patés.
3. Smoked Meat Sticks: Portland’s very own “Slim Jim”—tiny, snappy chorizos and house jerky that Cairo hopes to see behind every bar in Oregon.
When asked about quality control, and the fear of turning into a salami giant like Columbus or Creminelli, Cairo had this to say: “We will always grate our own goddam nutmeg, pay a guy to peel fresh garlic, and age with natural mold casings. I’ll never compromise.”
Stay tuned for more updates as Olympic Provisions continues its quest for total artisan salami domination in America.