Mastering technique and perpetuating traditional French charcuterie, while advocating for a reduced and well-thought-out meat consumption as well as the importance of craftsmanship.
Photo by Melissa Hom
Originally from Bordeaux, France, Aurélien spent his childhood in Germany, surrounded by farms, where charcuterie is an integral part of the gastronomic landscape. He discovered his passion for cooking from a very young age, and perfected his taste and passion for terroir by working alongside renowned Chefs and Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF). The saga of competitions began early for this multi-awarded Chef. After enrolling in the MOFs selection, the highest and most prestigious award in France in the food industry, he got a job opportunity in New York city. A couple of months later, Aurélien was Chef charcutier for the prestigious Chef Daniel Boulud and his restaurant group. He has forged a strong reputation within the industry for an exceptional savoir-faire that only a very few know in the United States. Faced with a very high demand for top quality artisanal charcuterie, he decided to launch Dufour Gourmet.
Today, even if his profession does not encourage him to make the following statement, Aurélien nevertheless advocates the reduction of meat consumption. He also believes that the act of purchasing meat must be right-minded and directed towards traceability and local craftsmanship.
Welcome Aurélien to Chefs for Impact!
By Aurélien Dufour as told to Chefs for Impact
What is your definition of sustainable gastronomy?
"It means working with small producers who respect their products. The small cooperatives I work with bring together local farms from NY and its surrounding states. They raise an incredible quality of meat, which is never vacuum-packed. After working many years for the Dinex group, I have been able to build a strong network of purveyors. Today, they are my richness; without them, it would not be possible to make quality charcuterie. We have a very close relationship where I spend a lot of time clearly explaining what the expectations are. Sometimes, I even teach cutting techniques that are slightly different here in the U.S. from what we know in France. I use these practices in order to value every single piece of meat, to reduce waste, and to appreciate the taste."
Since the trend is to reduce meat consumption and go vegan, is it sustainable to eat charcuterie?
"It's not going to be a revelation if I tell you that I'm not vegan and that I eat meat every day. Nevertheless, it is not healthy to eat meat every day, it is very bad for the arteries, and it reduces the blood circulation as well as causing fatigue and generally exposing you to more health problems. I do respect the vegan trends and I understand where they come from; however, I don't think you should stop eating meat. Meat consumption reduction is a crucial thought and the act of purchasing meat should always be preceded by a reflection on the origin of the product. Traceability is essential to eat quality products and not to fall into the trap of eating meat from factory farming. I think that mindful consumption is the best way to do it.
Have you ever opened a package of chicken bought from the supermarket and found it dripping with stick water? Some poultry companies inject substances into the breasts to add weight. The chickens are bloated with water, fed with GMOs, and injected with multiple chemicals. Sustainability is about the most natural way to do things. When people ask me: why is the shelf life of my pâtés ‘only’ 30 days while others can last months? The answer is quite simple: I use only natural products and no preservatives.
A good quality meat bought from the farmer might be slightly more expensive but the difference in terms of taste will be tremendous. We must support the small farmers who are doing their best to offer a superb quality. There must be a collective consciousness and the consumers must stop going for the simplest, and most profitable options."
How can you access these products when you live in a city like New York?
"Go directly to the farm when possible, or order online and have the products delivered. Anyone can access them in theory, but it does require some research. Farms such as Fossil farm, Lucky 7, and JJ farm offer fantastic products."
Do you think this crisis will change the American consumer’s meat consumption patterns?
"We are certainly going to see many changes from a nutritional point of view, and that’s good because the actual food system needs it. For several months now, people have cooked every day, made their own bread, and some people have started to diversify their source of supply. Perhaps this crisis may have had the advantage to make the American consumer a little healthier? In some households, there is a real lack of education about food and nutrition. Certain people do not even know that independent farmers still exist in the country; they only know about large slaughterhouses and industrial products. It is important to know how food was grown and it is crucial to understand the benefits to your health, to the planet, and the local communities. Know-how is the best educational tool to convey one's values through taste and pleasure.
The future of gastronomy is the return to local craftsmanship."
Learn more: https://www.dufourgourmet.com/