Butcher W.A.Van Berkel began producing meat slicing machines in the late 1800’s in Holland. The quality and innovation of his design quickly differentiated him from his competitors. The concave blade and machine movement allowed a more precise cut especially favored by European meat markets.
The proper slicing of salumi and salami in Italy is both an art and a science and the Italians saw the benefit of having the right machine to do it. Proper slicing is essential to maintain the true flavor components of the meat. Meat slicing aficionados believe that a sleek thin slice of salami allows the real true flavor of the artisan product to come through. Berkel slicers became renowned throughout Italy and to this day are favored. Emilio Mitidieri, a maestro Italian slicer in San Francisco has a passion for the essence of “issimo”, as in slicing to the thinnest, sourcing and refurbishing vintage Berkel meat slicers from Italy which by the way were manufactured in Indiana (my home state) during the 1920’s. The Berkel slicer Indiana (Model B) with a floral fly-wheel was made in La Porte, Indiana and remained in production for a decade. Their quality, historical innovation and art nouveau style make them highly collectible and many remaining are being restored here and in Italy for those who would like to preserve a piece of industrial history.