Kevin Costa of Crested Duck Charcuterie prepares and preserves locally sourced meats in small batches in Beechview, PA.
And not just traditional pork. Kevin’s niche is charcuterie with a twist. He cures and ages everything, including beef, lamb and duck with unconventional ingredients like orange zest, lemongrass and juniper for bold, unexpected flavors.
Where did Kevin learn the ancient artisan craft of meat curing? “I just jumped right in,” he says. “It seemed simple enough.” A Pittsburgh native who left town to earn a BA in International Business and French at The Ohio State University, followed by a stint in West Africa with the Peace Corps, Kevin returned to turn his love of food into a career. Mentored by Chef Joanne Drilling in Cincinnati, he honed his skills and moved back to Pittsburgh to open Crested Duck with his family.
His business model was built on supporting local farmers raising animals and produce responsibly. “It just makes sense,” says Kevin. “If you can support a local family and build a relationship, you’re bound to get a better product than factory farmed. There’s the lower transportation costs and carbon footprint. Plus, these farmers have kids to raise. The economics of it are a healthy cycle.”
In addition to housing his curing operations, Kevin’s Beechview facility is home to a small, intimate restaurant where he serves dinner Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. “I love to cook and share. It’s the best part of the week for me,” says Kevin, who when he isn’t in the kitchen, is mingling with guests. “And it’s BYOB.”
Although Kevin’s charcuterie is awesome à la carte, given their aggressive, delightful flavors, he also likes them simply with a sharp Cheddar, almonds and an equally bold red.
Here are a few of his prized recipes:
Beef Bresaola — Grass-fed beef eye of round cured with rosemary, thyme and juniper
Moroccan Lamb Coppa — Cured lamb shoulder rubbed with north African spices
Dirty Martini Salami — Half lamb, half pork salami with juniper
California Dreaming Salami — Pork salami with orange zest, fennel, ginger & lemongrass
Limoncello Salami — Pork salami with lemon, basil and star anise
Coppa Barista — Cured pork shoulder rubbed with espresso, cocoa and rosemary