Billy Rawstrom is Wilmington’s self-appointed sausage king. / Photo by Joe del Tufo
Billy Rawstrom, Wilmington’s unofficial “sausage king,” opened Maiale Deli & Salumeria six years ago. His shop, in The Cannery shopping center, offers a sausage-centered menu for breakfast and lunch, pig butchering classes and special themed dinners.
DT: How did Maiale originate?
BR: I was looking into owning my own restaurant. While watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” I saw Armandino Batali (artisan salumist and father of chef Mario Batali) making this cool salami and said, “That’s what I want to do.” I took a slightly different approach, doing both cured and fresh sausages.
DT: Where did you get your culinary training?
BR: I have been in the restaurant business for 20 plus years. Educationally, I have an associate’s degree from Johnson & Wales [University] in culinary arts, a bachelor’s degree in food service management and a master’s degree in education.
DT: How did you get interested in butchering?
BR: I always liked working with different products and trying new and different things. Butchering enables you to know where the products come from and gives you more of an appreciation of the animal.
DT: What’s the most difficult part?
BR: The most difficult part of butchering is the physicality of it. We butcher pigs around 240 pounds. It can be difficult to push and pull and move into the right place for your knife to do the work.
DT: You hold classes where you butcher a pig. What do you hope participants will learn during the session?
BR: I hope they learn enough about the pig so that they can go home and practice some of the techniques I taught them. I hope they use the different parts of the pig the correct way. I also hope they get a greater appreciation of the whole animal and how to use it without waste. Move away from vacuum-sealed bags of pork at Costco and meet your farmer.
DT: Why did you decide to make sausage?
BR: I wanted to open a sandwich shop. I thought by doing creative, chef-driven sausages, I could differentiate my business and stick out.
DT: What’s popular with customers?
BR: The Tuscan salami and soppressata are our most popular cured meats. The fire-roasted corn and poblano and chicken sausage with spinach and Provolone are our most popular fresh sausages.
DT: What makes your product special?
BR: We hand make everything. We don’t use any additives, preservatives or fillers. Most importantly, we take a chef’s approach to sausage making. Combing flavors, meats and salt, we create delicious sausages that are flavorful and unique.
DT: What’s next?
BR: We will be opening our warehouse in the next few weeks. We would like to see our sausages and salami in restaurants, grocery stores and specialty stores. We also hope we can open up a few more restaurants in the next few years as well.