Posted on by Nancy Butler
Michelin-starred Chef Matt Hinckley channels his years of experience in top notch restaurants around the globe into meats. After working in kitchens from New Zealand to New York City, Matt moved down to Orlando with the intention of seeing what the town needed. Without the connections to open a restaurant, he reconnected with Emily Rankin of Florida & Co. (what used to be Local Roots) who had just bought an old Butcher Shop in Lake Helen. Matt used this property to launch his meat business, Hinckley’s Fancy Meats. Instead of selling to restaurants and grocery stores, Matt decided to sell directly to the consumer. His first buyer was New York Times Food Editor Sam Sifton, who instantly fell in love with his product. A few months later, Hinckley’s charcuterie box was included in the New York Times 2017 Holiday Gift Guide. Sales skyrocketed as people all over the United States were scrambling to get their taste of Hinckley’s meats. Although this was wonderful for business, Hinckley wanted to bring more attention to his brand locally. East End Market has been a major part of this process, starting around two years ago when Hinckley began selling his meat products on Emily Rankin’s shelves of Florida & Co.. Hinckley’s Fancy Meats will now be East End’s newest tenant, and locals couldn’t be more excited.
Aside from Hinckley’s Fancy Meats’ large selections of deli cuts and cured meats, their space at East End will have sandwiches, deli boards, and selections of pâtés, roulades, terrines, and rillettes. On beautiful wooden boards from fallen hurricane trees, Hinckley’s meat will embody the local food movement dream of East End: his charcuterie and sandwiches will be paired with bread from Olde Hearth Bakery, vegetables from the organic gardens of Farm & Haus and Fleet Farming, and even honey from the bees on East End’s roof. All of their meat will be available for purchase by the pound as well, and will still be available online for Hinckley’s fans all over the country. I asked Matt some questions about meat, the contents of his fridge, and what we can expect from his first brick and mortar shop, and my mouth is already watering.
If you could only eat one animal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The pig is a pretty versatile beast, especially when you consider the myriad of cooking techniques you can apply to it (like dry cured charcuterie!).
What five ingredients could you not live without?
Sea salt, good olive oil, tomatoes, potatoes, and cardoons (cardoons are the love child of celery and artichoke hearts).
Favorite late night grub?
Chinese. I will eat ALL the egg rolls.
What is your favorite product that you sell and why?
Tasso is both the most versatile and most flavorful product that I offer.
What’s your favorite flavor combination?
Today it’s Fennel & Orange.
If we opened your fridge right now, what would we find?
There’s so many condiments in my fridge that there’s little room for anything else.
What’s the last meal that you cooked?
White beans and escarole with Tasso ham.
What’s your favorite way to prepare meat?
I like the tougher cuts that require slow and slow cooking. Preferably over fire.
Favorite thing about East End?
I think all of the shops complement each other and there’s something for everyone.
What ingredients are in the charcuterie box that was featured in the New York Times?
Tasso, Smoked Headcheese, Country Pate, Bacon Liverwurst, Spuma Di Lardo, Smoked Antelope Sausage, Duck Ham, Duck Rillette.
You just got off work and you want to grab some drinks. Where are you going and what are you drinking?
I’m going home to get over-hydrated on La Croix sparkling water. I quit drinking alcohol a few years ago.
Favorite local hangout?
My second home is Gracie-Barra North Orlando with all my Jiujitsu and Muay Thai friends.
You’re on a time crunch and you’ve only got 30 minutes to prepare a great dinner. What are you making?
Salmon with wilted greens and some sort of vinaigrette. Meyer lemon!
After running a restaurant in NYC, how does the Orlando food scene compare?
I think Orlando is finally coming onto the scene. There’s a great community of people who are demanding better food options and the market is responding.
How do you foresee Orlando becoming a more food secure community?
We can’t be shy about asking restaurants or grocery stores questions about where their food comes from. And we have to be willing to step up to the pump and reward the people who are doing things the right way. Corporate lobbyists hold too much power over government for change to get legislated into action. It has to happen at the consumer level. When we vote with our forks, the market changes to meet our demand. The people have the real power. But we have to use that power if we want our kids to inherit a better food system.