“Nose-to-tail is what you hear a lot about these days, and it is very much what we’re doing here,” says Mick Nunn, the one-man show behind Ballarat-based charcuterie Salt Kitchen. “The animal has paid the ultimate price, so the least we can do is use as much of it as possible.”

Nunn has worked as a chef for around 20 years. He started out as an apprentice at Marios in The Continental, and worked at Grossi Florentino. It was there he began to pay more attention to regionality, and the concept of no-waste cooking.

“When I worked at Florentino, Pietro Grossi, Guy’s [Grossi, chef] dad, would come in,” says Nunn. “If he saw the outside of the cos leaves in the bin he’d give you a clip over the back of the head. He’d pull them out of the bin and tell you to make a soup out of them for a staff meal, or something like that. Those sorts of people influence you along the way. At the time you’re a young kid and annoyed by it, but it really does develop that sense of not wasting anything.”

After Grossi Florentino, Nunn spent almost five years cooking in the UK, absorbing techniques, ideas and principles from each experience that continue to inform his methods today.

“I think all chefs come to a point in their career when they question where they’re going long-term. A lot of chefs will choose a cuisine and open a Thai restaurant, or a dumpling house, or whatever it might be. My passion has always been charcuterie.”

Nunn’s passion took him to Gascony in the south-west of France to train in whole-carcass butchery and charcuterie with Kate Hill from Kitchen at Camont. “I wanted to upskill a bit more,” says Nunn of his European experience. “I wanted to learn some traditional recipes and techniques to bring back home. I felt it was really important to be entrenched in a region where this type of food is part of day-to-day life. It was important to see that sense of provenance in the old world.”

It took a few years for Nunn to make the transition to full-time meatsmith, but he knew meat suppliers would play an integral role in his own practice. He also knew that he would return to his hometown of Ballarat, and make it a base for Salt Kitchen, which has just hit its one-year mark.

Nunn says there has been a shift in the past five to 10 years – the region has started to form its food identity. “It baffled me somewhat that I would be buying all this produce from my own region, but local restaurants weren’t. Now there’s some really great food and inspiring restaurants starting to open up.”

At Western Plains Pork, in nearby Rokewood, owners Tim and Judy Croagh have set aside a paddock specifically for Nunn’s pigs, growing them out to 120 kilograms – almost double the standard size – to ensure the appropriate fat and muscle structure for the charcuterie Nunn makes.

Nunn turns the head into fromage de tete (“head cheese”, a type of cold cut); the shoulders into sausages and Pâté de Campagne (a terrine); the ribs into American-style short racks; the belly into streaky bacon; loin into a maple-cured bacon; the back legs into hams; and the trotters and hocks into jambon persille (ham hocks simmered in white wine). He also sends the trim and fat to Casa Iberica to make the traditional saucisson (thick, dry-cured sausage) Nunn learned to do during his Gascon training.

Nunn has plans to install a dry-curing room at Salt Kitchen, which will allow him to expand into pancetta, prosciutto and bresaola. His aim is to develop charcuterie from western Victorian produce that rivals the time-tested, tradition-rich imports from Europe.

To try some of Nunn’s handiwork in Ballarat, sample the maple-cured and streaky bacons on the aptly named “The Bacon” pizza at The Forge, and head to The Mallow to try his coppacola on a charcuterie board with d’affinois cheese, grilled peach and ciabatta. For supplies of Nunn’s bacon to take home, go to Wilsons Fruit and Vegetables on Mair Street.

Nunn will also host the first in a series of Sunday roasts in Ballarat, held at Housey Housey – The Forge’s new function space – on weekends throughout winter. Presented by Broadsheet in partnership with Visit Ballarat, each event will host a different chef showcasing the incredible harvests coming out of this fertile region. See below for details.

The Sunday Roast Series

Week one: Sunday May 29, 1-4pm (Sold Out)
Chef: Mick Nunn, Salt Kitchen Charcuterie
Dish: Rib of grass fed Sage Choice beef, dripping potatoes, maple roast parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, oxtail jus and horseradish cream.
Venue: Housey Housey, 12 Armstrong St Nth, Ballarat
Guests: 50
Ticket price $40, including glass of wine, beer or soft drink.
Buy tickets

Week two: Sunday June 5, 1-4pm (Sold Out)
Chef: Peter Ford, Peter Ford Catering
Dish: Slow-roasted Glen Greenock Lamb, creamy clay pot potatoes, sherry roasted root vegetables, golden nuggets, confit garlic, Summerfield Shiraz and lamb jus.
Venue: Housey Housey, 12 Armstrong St Nth, Ballarat
Guests: 50
Ticket price $40, including glass of wine, beer or soft drink.
Buy tickets

Week three: Sunday June 12, 1-4pm (Sold Out)
Chef: Suzi Fitzpatrick, Catfish Thai
Produce: Crown roast of Tarna Valley free range pork, apple stuffing, salty black bean sauce and Mt Egerton winter vegetables.
Venue: Housey Housey, 12 Armstrong St Nth, Ballarat
Guests: 50
Ticket price $40, including glass of wine, beer or soft drink.
Buy tickets

Week four: Sunday June 19, 1-4pm (Sold Out)
Chef: Shannon Easton, Craig’s Royal Hotel
Produce: Porchetta of Western Plains Pork, duck fat potatoes and orbs of joy.
Venue: Housey Housey, 12 Armstrong St Nth, Ballarat
Guests: 50
Ticket price $40, including glass of wine, beer or soft drink.
Buy tickets

This article presented in partnership with Visit Ballarat.