The Oregon Trail: Olympia Provisions
The chances of seeing Olympia Provisions on store shelves across the country is quite high. This little meat maker in Portland, Or has seen wild amounts of success since it's inception in 2009. Though their growth has been quick and substantial, their core values have kept them grounded and committed to the quality and care they began with.
From behind the scenes at restaurants like Clyde Commons and Castagna to a familial love of food, Olympia Provisions was born. Elias Cairo, the face of OP, grew up in a large Greek family that held strong to a sense of tradition. His hard-working father owned a restaurant and made salami at home from the animals that they would hunt. This spurned a love for butchery in Eli, leading him to Switzerland where he worked for five years learning the art of butchery and salami making. Needless to say, Eli came back with a vision to create and build off the things he learned overseas. His move to Portland lead him to the busy and reputable back of the house lines at some of the best restaurants in Portland where he gathered some very talented friends and utilizing the support of his family and their inherent talents, Eli was able to realize his dreams.
Olympia Provisions was the first USDA approved salumeria in the United States. This is no easy feat. Eli researched non stop and delved head first into the science of molds and fermentation to be able to educate local inspectors of the inherent good of bacteria. Eli's insistence on working with and creating a good relationship with inspectors is what has helped propel them to two restaurants, a meat processing plant, hot dog joints popping up on every corner, and an in house pickle program.
Things are done a little differently around OP. They really use a hands on approach and feel like the human aspect of the job is very important. From hand rolling each salami into its package to stuffing sausages, the product you buy in the store has been touched by many trained hands. In a time when automation is taking over and can improve efficiencies, OP understands that the same quality cannot be achieved by a machine. They even sort the spices each day for production! No pre-made spice mix, actually picking the thyme leaves off the branches to create their specific flavors!
This approach may not be the easiest route but it's the one that delivers the best tasting products.
It's easy to think that when you see a product on the shelf everywhere around the country that with that wide distribution, quality will be lost or that the company has gone "big time". This is just not always the case. Lots of tiny companies have the ability to expand their reach these days, so while OP may have quite a few employees for such a small company, most of those employees work on the restaurant side of the business.
Olympia Provisions is still seeing rapid growth and have been able to put their stamp on the meat world in a very big way but their attention to detail and the use of processes that harken back to the beginning of preserved food will keep their inherent quality intact.
Find their products at most Specialty food counters around the country or stop by one of their many restaurants in the Portland area for a true treat of meaty proportions!