It’s 9:30 a.m. The scion of S. Wallace Edwards & Sons is not at his desk.
Nope. S. Wallace Edwards III is next door at the plant, wrist-deep in sausage.
Wearing khakis, a white lab coat and company ball cap, he stands in one corner of a cavernous room flanked by a pair of deep sinks and a stainless steel table.
Scores of Virginia country hams dangle from rolling, wooden racks at the back of the room, each voluptuous hunk cured to mahogany and gold in time for the Easter rush. The air smells faintly of bacon and hickory smoke.
This morning, the company’s mustachioed president is focused on a perennial problem: how to turn a profit from literally tons of country ham scraps, delicious debris left after the 86-year-old company’s signature products are deboned and dispatched to customers across the country.
Other food companies hire consultants, top-tier chefs and scientists to develop products. Sam does what three generations of Edwardses have always done: relies on his own palate, born, bred and fine-tuned in the Tidewater countryside, where collards, beans, gravy and most anything are seasoned with pork and where a holiday wouldn’t be a holiday without a ham.
The approach has earned Edwards a place in the fanciest food emporiums, including Dean & Deluca and Williams-Sonoma. And chefs plate up Edwards’ pork at places like Husk Restaurant in Charleston, S.C., and Manhattan’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar, named one of the top 50 restaurants in the world.
“Very few country ham producers reach Sam Edwards’ level of quality,” said Momofuku Ssäm Bar Chef Ryan Miller, who serves Edwards’ Wigwam ham with a baguette and red-eye mayonnaise for $11. “His product is on par with Spanish and Italian dry-cured hams, with a great balance of smoke, age, fat and salt.” Read More…..