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The Chorizo King

One of my favourite places in Kensington Market is Segovia Meat Market [aka Casa del Chorizo], where I have been buying my chorizo for years.

Leonardo Segovia is the proprietor and a friend, and I like to think of him as the Chorizo King because he runs the first Latino butcher shop in Canada, makes 18 varieties of chorizo in the styles that are popular all over Central and South America.

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The Segovia’s Josue, Filomena and Leonardo

Leo is a second-generation butcher and sausage-maker. His father, Leonard Sr., started the business 32 years ago next June. The Segovias are from Rancaqua, a small town outside Chile’s capital, Santiago, and they came to Canada as part of the first wave of South American emigrants in the 1970’s.

As a family business, everyone is involved. Filomena is the matriarch. She overseas the marinades, seasoning and cooking of whole pigs, from sucklings of 10 to 70-pounders, all of them custom-ordered. Leonardo’s brother Dario Alfonso and their cousin Josue Ramires help with the day-to-running of the shop, but also run El Gordo, the shop next door, which specializes in empanadas from all over the Americas and has sells over 30 different styles.

Leo’s chorizos are renowned, and city chefs praise them. The shop is also known for its cochino asado [whole roasted pork]. Most recently, Leo introduced choriso brazileño, courtesy of Graziela, Leo’s Brazilian girlfriend, who got the recipe from her grand father.

I love talking to Leo about how he makes his sausages and his techniques for roasting whole pork, but no matter how much I flatter him, he won’t talk divulge his methods or recipes.

Dude, forget it. Nice try, he says.

Last week I went to see him for some chorizo that I’m going to use for a cooking class, and we got onto the subject of Jason Chow’s article in The National Post on the new provincial Food safety and Quality act.

Karl’s Butcher Shop & Grocery on Roncesvalles that has been open nearly 47 years, and according to Chow’s piece, the owner decided to close down because it would be too expensive to make the necessary changes to their operation to comply with the new regulations.

The new act changes Karl’s status from being in the municipal system, overseen by the Public Health Unit, to being regulated by the provincial Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Karl’s is now classified as a meat plant and has to be treated like a meat processing facility, because the store makes its own sausages on the premises.

It’s really too bad about Karl’s. When in lived in the neighbourhood, I was a regular customer and really liked the place.

Leo says the stringent guidelines are a good thing. We have to be responsible in our safety. It’s in the interest of our customers, and that who is keeps our business alive, he says.

Well put, Leo.

Yours in good food, with The Chorizo King
Carlos

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*Spanish for: "Mmm. Wow. That's good!"