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