Focusing Culinary Talents

By Della Vreeland – Visit Ballarat
Image Mick Nunn – Photographer Tony Edwards 

MOST chefs search their whole career to find their passion. Some open a bakery or cafe. Some will start a taco shop. Others will go into fine dining. For Mick Nunn, there was never a question in his mind as to where he wanted to focus his culinary talents.

“The thing I’ve always loved is making charcuterie,” Mick says.  “I think a lot of chefs search their whole career to find what their passion is. For me, it was always making batches of salami, having a prosciutto hanging somewhere, making terrines and parfaits. That was what always gave me the most satisfaction.”

Born and raised in Ballarat, Mick Nunn is the founder of Salt Kitchen Charcuterie.  Salt Kitchen officially opened the doors of its cool-room in 2015, but its products are in high demand across regional Victoria and the entire country. There’s a sense of pride and passion that is hard to ignore when Mick speaks of his work, and it’s easy to see why the business is doing as well as it is. “We’ve been really lucky and happy to have gained so much traction,” he says. “Our business strategy is deliberate. We stay within the region and have a local philosophy. It’s smallgoods with provenance.  We are pitching a mid- to high- end range with our products and they’re one-farm products, making us a reserve-range charcuterie.”

Mick admits he didn’t grow up in a family that was particularly drawn to food and wine. “I’m not third generation Italian or French or Spanish. I’m an Aussie and I’m from a British background and food in my family growing up was quite simple, quite basic,” he says.  “When I first went to Melbourne for work experience and then started my apprenticeship, the world of food opened up and I just loved it. I became very passionate about it very quickly.”

Salt Kitchen Charcuterie will be one of the operators showcased during this year’s inaugural Salumi and Charcuterie Festival, with Mick playing a major role in bringing the event together.

Held as part of the Ballarat Winter Festival, the one-day affair will take place at the Mining Exchange, bringing together a range of meaty delights from near and far, matched by the craft beer of the region.

According to Mick, there’s a lot happening in the local food, wine and beer space and it’s important for it to be put under the spotlight. “The major reason for me coming back to Ballarat to live and work was the produce of the region,” Mick says. “We are smack-bang in the middle of the food belt here and we’ve got the advantage of all these fantastic producers right on our doorstep.”

The Salumi and Charcuterie Festival will be held on Saturday, July 21 between 11am and 6pm. For more information, visit ballaratwinterfestival.com.au