It started with a broken floor drain and ended with a missing signature. Those are the bookends of the closing of beloved food institution, Knight Salumi. I spoke with owner Rey Knight to find out the story behind his cryptic message on his website and on Twitter. He explained that in November the U.S.D.A. instructed him to fix a floor drain. Since that required shutting down production Knight asked one of his consulting clients, a salumi company in St. Louis, if they could co-pack and produce some product for him in the meantime. They did, but just before the holidays when the product was ready to ship, the U.S.D.A. seized it and ultimately had it destroyed because the St. Louis plant was missing a signature in its paperwork. Knight fought the U.S.D.A. but lost, his insurance wouldn’t cover the loss, and Knight, now broke from the process, had to dissolve the company.
This is a huge loss in the local food community. Knight Salumi had broken ground in San Diego with its masterfully seasoned, utterly seductive sausages. Just over a year ago Knight invited me to spend time at his kitchen so I could learn how he turned pork into gustatory magic, which I, of course, wrote about. My favorite salami was the sopressata, but I also looked forward to weekends when I would buy a fresh sausage hot off the grill, smothered in mustard and sauerkraut. For now, Knight Salumi fans will have to find another savory substitute. His former partner Albert Juarez is continuing to make salumi as Meat Men LLC and Knight is working with him as a consultant. You can find Meat Men at the Ocean Beach, Poway, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside PM farmers markets. And stay tuned for Knight’s next move. On June 1 he’s going to start making beer under the name Butcher’s Brewing.