This Classically Trained Chef Opened a Restaurant in a Rural Amish Community — No Electricity, No Fridges

01/18/2016 at 03:25 PM ET


Matthew Secich has the kind of of culinary credentials that most cooks only dream of. He studied cuisine at Johnson and Wales University and traveled to France to study their cooking. Julia Child even taught him how to make an omelet.

From there, he worked at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago (where a single meal could run $350), The Oval Room in Washington, D.C., and The Alpenhof Lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

His new spot, though, is a bit of a departure from his storied past. It’s called Charcuterie, but that’s where any similarities to Secich’s previous life end.

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That’s because Charcuterie is located in a converted cabin in a pine forest in Unity, Maine, population 2,000. Oh, also Secich and his family joined the nearby Amish community, which means everything operates according to their new sect’s anti-technological stance.

A wood stove provides the only heat in Charcuterie; oil lamps the only light. Instead of a walk-in freezer, there’s a pine plank old room filled with 79 tons of hand-hewn ice from a nearby lake. All the meat is ground by hand, and the andoiulle, kielbasa and sweet beef bologna, along with smoked ham and cheeses, attract people from up to an hour’s drive away.

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“Matthew is half-masochist and half-sadist in equal measure,” Secich’s former sous chef, Sean Folwer (now chef and owner of Mandolin in Raleigh, North Carolina), told NPR. “[I saw] berating of waitstaff, berating of fellow cooks. I saw pans thrown and all-out rage-infused temper tantrums.”

“I thought I was on top of the world and I had the best job that you could have working for one of the best restaurants in the world,” Secich told NPR of that time.

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But Secich says he didn’t find what he was looking for until he started following the traditionalist Christian faith of the Amish. His family followed him, and his children follow the faith as well, taking ponies to school instead of buses.

“We probably only have very small sales these days,” he said of the financial difficulties  of operating a deli in the middle of a rural Amish community. “But I trust God’s going to provide for us exactly what we need to get by.”

—Alex Heigl

FILED UNDER: Food , Food News , Restaurants

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms


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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Kay on

Seriously…. do you have to go to such an extreme? Amish? Why not just simplify your life and still have some amenities and fully serve God?

Agony sdᴉlℲ on

I take it he’s not going to be reading this article online.

Anonymous on

Of course the menu is filled with the carcasses of previously alive beings. The Amish faith has no consideration for lives other than their own. He trusts that God will provide for him. Good luck with that and your sausage restaurant. Disgusting.

Linda on

Of course the restaurant is full of the carcasses of previously living beings. The Amish community has zero regard for animal life, other than needing them to serve the human beings. He thinks God will provide what he needs? Delusional man. His sausage heavy restaurant is disgusting and he shouldn’t be lauded with praise because of it.

John on

I stopped in today, chatted, and picked some excellent smoked sausage and cheese. There are several towns here in Maine with Amish communities. You have to admire them for all their hard work. I don’t know about their faith, but I would trust most of them over most American schooled people I know. LOL. I’m glad that people who don’t understand the historic relationship between animals, plants, and humans won’t be visiting his shop. We’d all prefer they stay in the cities and shop at Whole Foods. Lol.