Born and raised in an Italian-Canadian family in Sault Ste. Marie, Steve Furgiuele has a great appreciation for great food.
Formally trained as a chef at North Bay’s Canadore College, the people of Edmonton can’t get enough of his cured meats.
Steve did some traveling before settling down in Edmonton in 2012, where he lives with his wife Mariana.
The couple met, by the way, while Steve was visiting Brazil.
“It’s a really cute romantic story. She was a fan of my band,” Steve told SooToday.
“Back in the Sault I was in a progressive metal band called Gates of Winter as a bassist, and we played the Rotaryfest Second Stage the first two years they held it. I had a really good relationship with a lot of Sault artists.”
Steve met Mariana through the Internet in 2006 as he busily promoted his band online.
The two kept in touch and Steve headed to Brazil to visit Mariana in 2012.
While there, Steve learned a great deal about life in Brazil.
“I proposed to Mariana, and it was the best decision I ever made,” Steve said.
But, back to food, Steve’s second greatest love.
In early 2013, Steve became head chef and manager at Edmonton’s Culina Mill Creek Restaurant, a business big on promoting locally produced food.
“During that time, I decided to start producing in house charcuterie (prepared meat products) like sausages, salami, capocollo, drawing on the knowledge I had growing up in the Sault, doing that with my family.”
Steve’s professional, passionate touch with prepared meat products started to attract attention among Edmonton foodies.
“It started to get me a lot of press, the restaurant was featured in one of the local magazines as one of the best 25 places to eat in town because of the charcuterie board.”
Steve eventually decided to leave the restaurant and start his own meat production business, becoming chef, salumiere and owner of FUGE Fine Meat.
A salumiere is a person who owns or works in a shop that sells cold meats.
‘Fuge’ (pronounced ‘fooj’), Steve said, is a nickname he has had since childhood.
Steve operates FUGE out of an Edmonton facility called Ital Canadian Meats.
“It’s owned by the only Calabrian woman in town (Rose Bossio),” Steve chuckled, referring to his own Calabrian background.
“She’s incredibly supportive, I work out of her facility and she is my distributor in Edmonton.”
So, the business has started up. What’s next?
Steve has launched a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising enough cash to purchase a large, walk-in refrigeration unit in which to properly cure meats.
$20,000 is the goal, and Steve said the crowdfunding effort is “80 per cent there.”
The crowdfunding campaign, run though an Alberta Treasury Branch website dedicated to helping the province’s entrepreneurs, runs until Jan. 29.
“At the restaurant I used three converted home refrigeration units, now I’m using pop fridges which are a little larger, but I need a unit where I can actually walk in and hang my stuff because demand is big, I can’t keep up with the demand.”
“One of the reasons I started to make my own charcuterie was because the stuff we were getting from out of town wasn’t consistent in quality.”
“I decided to make my own, and other restaurants started to call me, I was catering, it was starting to grow because there’s no place in town where you can buy stuff that is made locally, like local cured products…of course there are sausage makers, but there are no cured meats, so I decided to base my own business around that.”
Steve is dedicated to buying Canadian meat in order to make his products, one of his tag lines being ‘Edmonton’s premier artisan salumiere, proudly supporting Alberta’s farmers.’
To do that, Steve explained, he needs that walk-in refrigeration unit.
“I’m really proud…Edmonton’s been so awesome with me,” Steve said, though also proud of his Sault roots.
Speaking of roots, Steve also offers a service he calls ‘Your History in a Sausage.’
“I’ve had a lot of emails about those.”
Steve will research spices from a person’s country of origin and develop a product based around that, name it after a person’s surname and include it in his lineup of cured meats.
“There’s a lot of research and development to it, it’s really rewarding, and the people I do it for are really impressed.”
Steve said he has made North African, Brazilian, Thai and Icelandic sausages, along with traditional Italian sausage.
“My background in the Sault, my parents, uncles and godparents, those people instilled a very sincere and honest passion for food in me. I genuinely love what I do, and I’m proud of the people who helped get me here.”