Craig Deihl opens the walk-in fridge in the second-floor banquet kitchen at Cypress and takes a deep breath. “This is the meat room,” he says, gesturing toward the hanging rows of mold-kissed salamis, sausages, and hams. “It smells funky, but in a really good way.” Back in 2007, a desire to work with local, heritage-breed pigs and to use every bit of them—from their heads down to their hooves—sparked his interest in curing meats. Since then, he’s accumulated more than 4,000 pounds of the stuff, most of which will wind up behind the counter at Artisan Meat Share, the charcuterie-driven eatery he'll debut in Elliotborough this month. Read on to learn more about the new venture and how this mild-mannered chef from Pennsylvania went whole hog.
CM: Tell us about the offerings at Artisan Meat Share.
CD: It’s a lunch counter with made-to-order sandwiches. It’s also a butcher shop with fresh meat, cured meat, and smoked meat and a retail space for things we’re known for at Cypress, like our house-made pimiento cheese and bacon jam.
CM: So the two restaurants are very closely tied?
CD: Absolutely. Cypress is the fine-dining aspect, and Artisan Meat Share is the butchery and fast-casual aspect. They live homogeneously together, and the kitchen at Cypress functions as a commissary.
CM: Why did you choose to open in Elliotborough, when Cypress is South of Broad?
CD: It was about finding a location that fit where Charleston is actually moving. And we did not plan it this way, but there’s a fish and shrimp house [Seafood Alley] right next door. Maybe there’ll be some surf and turf going on.
CM: Who handled the renovation of the new space?
CD: We worked with architect David Thompson. We wanted a throwback feel, a place that looked old and maybe a little rough around the edges. When we first saw the building completely gutted, we thought the beat-up pine floor was amazing, so we refinished it and kept it.
CM: Do you use every part of the pig?
CD: Yep. The bones, the heads, and the pigs’ feet all get cooked down for pork stock. We bone out the head to make headcheese. We even boil skins to put into different sausages.
CM: Have you always been a meat lover?
CD: Growing up in Pennsylvania, my dad was an avid hunter, and my uncle owned a butcher shop. It was not uncommon for my dad to say, “Come here and check this out,” and there’d be a whole pig hanging there. I was excited to learn about where my food came from. And that’s why I’m excited about Artisan Meat Share. I want to connect people to their food.
Photo: Chef Craig Deihl poses with some-4,000 pounds of cured meat he’s accumulated for his new venture. To sample the goods, drop by Artisan Meat Share at 33 Spring Street.