No it’s not a basketball team but a slicing machine and on a recent trip to Italy to visit our Italian friends in Umbria, I was surprised to see a piece of kitchen art prominetely displayed in their renovated family farmhouse that brought me back home in Indiana. It was a Berkel (Model B) meat slicer from La Porte, Indiana about 30 minutes from where I live.
Butcher W.A.Van Berkel began producing meat slicing machines in the late 1800’s in Holland. The quality and innovation of his design quickly differentiated him from his competitors. The concave blade and machine movement allowed a more precise cut especially favored by European meat markets. Berkel slicers became renowned throughout Italy and to this day are favored.
The proper slicing of salumi and salami in Italy is both an art and a science and the Italians saw the benefit of having the right machine to do it. Proper slicing is essential to maintain the true flavor components of the meat. Meat slicing aficionados believe that a sleek thin slice of salami allows the real true flavor of the artisan product to come through. Emilio Mitidieri, a maestro Italian slicer in San Francisco sources and refurbishes vintage Berkel meat slicers from Italy which were manufactured in Indiana during the 1920’s. The Berkel slicer Indiana (Model B) with a floral fly-wheel made in La Porte Indiana remained in production for a decade. Their quality, historical innovation and art nouveau style make them highly collectible and many remaining are being restored here and in Italy for those who would like to preserve a piece of industrial history.