Stand by your ham: Specialty meat market to open in Nevada City
July 10, 2018
In a chilly, windowless room, carefully monitored to maintain a temperature of exactly 55 degrees and a humidity level of 75-80 percent, Jason Jillson is showing off his edible wares.
Hanging from a series of metal racks — each with a weight capacity of 300 pounds — is an array of various sausages, some which will remain there to cure for a period of weeks or months.
Jillson is in the final days of preparation before he opens The Ham Stand, a specialty meat market which will offer the aforementioned sausages in addition to cured meats, smoked meats, sandwiches, and — eventually — fresh pasta.
"We'll have deli meats (such as) mortadella, salami," Jillson said. "There'll be bacon, there'll be brisket and other pre-made barbecue items, and other things that just require a reheat. We'll have six to eight different types of sausage and then some more traditional European salamis and cured meats."
The Ham Stand, located on Zion Street in Nevada City, will open its doors Tuesday, an event which has been a long time coming for Jillson.
Jillson signed the lease on his shop location in July 2016 — nearly two years to the day before his opening date. He became incorporated in January 2017, and with a heavy dose of determination and hard work, is eager to share his product with Nevada County enjoyers of meat.
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A self-taught butcher and curer, Jillson is by no means a novice. He earned a graduate degree in culinary instruction, a six-year program that set him on a long path of preparing and sharing food with the public.
He worked for the Fairmont hotel group, working in the property's kitchens in Chicago and Boston. He was then enlisted to help launch the eateries of the chain's Dubai location.
Eventually he moved to California and worked in catering before deciding to take the plunge and open a butcher/meat shop that would showcase his talents and use his passion for creating specialty meats.
Local meat-lovers won't need to wait until The Ham Stand's opening day, however. Jillson said he'll be setting up shop at Nevada City's Summer Nights market tonight as well as the Thursday Night Market in Grass Valley. There, he said, he hopes to make better acquaintances and perhaps partner with local ranches to use their product in his own shop.
Currently, Jillson is sourcing meat from ranches in Chico and Penn Valley.
In many ways The Ham Stand is filling a niche that has been missing in the Nevada City/Grass Valley area for some time.
While locally-raised meats are commonly found in area farmer's markets, there has been an absence of a specialty meat and butcher shop for a number of years.
Jillson said he has heard many good things about PJ's Meats, a butcher that was located behind S.P.D. in Nevada City for over 40 years before closing a few years ago.
His goal, he said, is to offer the same friendly and thorough service with an emphasis on cured meats and sausages, and to teach people not only how to use his products but to understand where they come from and how they are made.
"I want people to know how their meat is made," said Jillson. "I want them to know the processes and requirements of making the food that they eat. I want folks to understand what it takes to make a good product, and why that's important."
Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4231.