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Best of the Wurst

Published: 
Monday, July 6, 2015
Stefan Grosberg is a chemical engineer who made a pickle—or at least a sausage-maker—of himself.

My name is Stefan Grosberg and I make artisanal sausages.

I was born in St Ann’s, the second to last of six siblings. Coming from a large family has made me always want one myself. Margaretha came to Trinidad for a one-year adventure as an optometrist and seven years later is still here. We’ve been dating for a year.

I spent three years studying chemical engineering at the University of Bath. I worked on an oil refinery for a year, seeing in practice everything from the classroom, but [also] some of the industry’s ugly side. I recognised engineering was not my passion. I was far more curious about food. I made two three-month trips to intern/work at farms in Europe and learnt about the food artisan and felt, “Yes! I can do this!”

I am a Catholic and I do go to church every weekend. I always try to get at least one thing from it to make me think.  I have no day job. It’s sausage (and pesto) day and night! 

Neon Indian, alt-J, Miike Snow all help me make sausage. But Neil Diamond on a Sunday morning is priceless. 

I don’t think so much about what food I could eat forever as what animal; and I think the pig will win. Jews and Muslims might disagree but it’s okay: there are many other delicious things we can enjoy together.  

You can do all sorts of incredibly different things with pig and it’s all DELICIOUS. A slow-roasted, melt in your mouth, sticky and gelatinous, buttery fat, crispy skin, herbed and spiced porchetta di testa. 

Human nature’s thirst for answers is incredibly important. But isn’t life just a little bit more exciting not having all the answers? 

Early on, after I decided against engineering, but did not yet know sausage was “my thing”, I was planting shadon beni for my pesto supply. A food blogger interviewing me asked my mum “Are you happy your son is planting shadon beni?” My mum said, “I hope that’s not all he would do”. It was the first time I felt my parents’ message that they would be happy with anything we did, so long as we did it to the best of our ability. No disrespect to shadon beni farmers, but she was right: there was more I could do. 

I’ll never be out of a job because people will never stop eating sausage! Its been a tradition for far too long as a way of using up every bit of the animal. Think black pudding. There was something manly about butchery that attracted me. A master butcher at work is mesmerising. I went down that path and found the world of sausages. 

My sausages are high-end, meaning high cost. Batch volumes are small, operating costs are high. There are ways of making a cheap sausage—high water and fat content, fillers/bulking agents, poor quality meat—but I don’t believe in any of that.  

My little mantra is, “One step at a time”. Every day of the week has its task: preparation; butchering; actually making the sausage; preparing orders; and finally delivery. A workday is 9 am-6 pm. Or 7 pm. Or 8. Or 9. Midnight is my cut off. Whenever the work is done really. I try to structure my time. 
You can very easily lose discipline when working for yourself. I do it all, from home, in my mini sausage factory. 

The best part of the job is, at the end of the week, to see the finished product neatly packed away. Sausages are the wurst! Ba-dum-ching! No, seriously, doing custom work is exciting but exhausting and stressful. ‘Cause when trying something new, you’re never really sure what the outcome will be. Sometimes it fails. I guess this is life. 

Maybe being born here automatically qualifies you but you don’t have to be born in T&T to be a Trini. It’s how you interact with this physical and social place. We are all so different yet do all still qualify as Trinis. 

Trinidad & Tobago is my home, where I’m from, where I identify with and where I care about.  

Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com 

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