Adam Lambert, who for the past five years has worked at Bar Cento, the last two of which as executive chef, will be leaving his post at the end of February. He will open a butcher shop in the "Palace of Fermentation," Sam McNulty's multi-faceted project currently taking shape in the Culinary Arts Building behind the West Side Market.
Plans already are in the works to open a retail and wholesale butcher shop in the complex, which also will house McNulty's new production brewery. The working title is Ohio City Meat Curing Co.
"We have plenty of good butcher shops in town, but I want to do something a little different," says Lambert, who greatly improved the charcuterie program at Cento. "What I love about charcuterie is that it really shows off the quality of the animal that you start with. When all you're doing it putting salt on the meat and letting it hang, it's all about how that animal was raised and finished."
To that end, Lambert has been working in tandem with Trevor Clatterbuck of Fresh Fork Market to source — and in many cases develop — a channel for high-quality, locally raised meat.
"Any animal that we can get that's humanely raised," he notes. "There are people out there doing it, we just need to get it into the public's hands."
In addition to heritage breeds of pork like Berkshire, Red Wattle and Mangalitsa, Lambert hopes to source and sell duck, quail, pheasant, guinea hen, turkey, rabbits, venison, beef and anything else that's humanely raised, he says.
Phase one of the ambitious project will consist of a retail butcher shop focusing on fresh cuts of meat, house-roasted deli meats and charcuterie. Phase two will involve ramping up production for wholesale distribution to area restaurants. Education will be a large part of the concept as well, with regular classes on butchering, curing and cooking.
"I had a great run at Cento," says Lambert, who is expecting a son in April. "It's just time for me to do something else."
Andrew Bower, presently executive chef across the street at Market Garden Brewery, will take over at Cento. Maggie Schwenk will be promoted from sous chef to executive chef at MGB.
"It's bitter-sweet," says McNulty about Lambert's departure. "You're sad to see them go but super thrilled when they move on to pursue their own thing."
And he couldn't be more confident with the next crew.
"I've worked with Bower and Schwenk for many years and I can't say enough good things about both of them," McNulty says. "The wheel keeps turning."
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