Italian at home: Salumi Australia founder Massimiliano Scalas
Massimiliano Scalas is the man behind Salumi Australia. Missing the wonderful salumi of his native Sardinia he joined forces with partner Rebecca McEwan to create an artisanal salumi range in the European slow food tradition. Back in 2010 they welcomed the first custom-built small goods manufacturing plant in the Northern Rivers, crafting award-winning cured meats and fermented goods that are today used in some of the country’s best restaurants, and stocked in retailers country-wide.
Why do Italians do it better when it comes to catering to a crowd?
“It dates back to Roman times. Gatherings have always revolved around food and feasts which is very much a national cultural tradition carried forth to this day. The style of food is simple yet generous, and the pride in sharing the traditional family recipes passed down over generations. The meal showcases the host’s level of hospitality and generosity, with the larger the spread of food and quality of the ingredients (and homemade wine), the higher the sense of pride from the hosting family. Dishes are made with passion and love, and quite often preparation begins days in advance for large celebrations.”
What are your earliest memories of people coming together over food?
“From my earliest memories, the main focus of celebrations was always about what food would be served and shared. Most celebrations are based around important religious days, such as Easter or Christmas or a particular ingredient like Sagra delle Lumache (which is a celebration of the snails).
“There is a period of time in autumn where the snails are abundant in Sardinia, so families get up really early after a rainy night to collect them in the countryside along the grassy fence lines. They are then cooked in different ways and shared together in the town square over long tables with music – the whole town comes together to celebrate.”
Top tips for entertaining?
“Keep it simple. Let the ingredients talk and source your ingredients from local markets or from a producer, which gives you a talking point at your gathering.”
Favourite Salumi Australia product to serve?
“We always have a grazing board with various flavours and sizes to keep it visually interesting, but my absolute favourite is the Salsiccia Sarda. The recipe for this quintessential Sardinian salami came from a much loved family friend who was like my second Nonna and she was so excited to share her family recipe with me when I started the business and have it then sold on the other side of the world. The flavour of this salami takes me back to my childhood, sweet pork with a hint of nutmeg, garlic and wine, a soft salami that is easy to hand slice in rustic chunky slices.”
Your fail-safe dish to cook when friends come over for dinner?
“Cooking on the open fire is my favourite way to cook hands down. I like to have my friends and family standing around the fire, having a drink and a chat while the salsiccia fresca coil is sizzling over the flames. Simple juicy sausages of all flavours served with salad from the garden and warm crusty bread from The Bread Social. Our lemon myrtle and Tassie mountain sausage is my new favourite flavour combo and screams summer.”
One non-negotiable when it comes to your antipasto platter?
Prosciutto, loved by all must be on every board. When purchasing prosciutto, get it freshly sliced for you from a quality deli where they treat each slice with respect as they slice. The San Daniele region by far produces the world’s most superior prosciutto.