The Cure

By Will Grunewald
Photographs by Molly Haley

Matthew Secich worked in some of the country’s most gourmet, most stressful kitchens, bouncing discontentedly from one high-profile gig to the next. Now, he makes smoked meats and cheeses in Unity’s Amish community, which he, his wife, and kids joined a few years ago. “It’s been a long, strange trip,” he says. “If somebody told me I’d be doing this, I’d have said they’re crazy.” But the quiet life he came here for wasn’t so quiet initially. The first year, news stories about the star chef turned Amish charcutier generated loads of hype. Today, the shop still bustles, but at a pace more to Secich’s liking. Customers can linger, sample, chat. “I’m in no rush,” he says. “I feel like I’m home.” Leelyn Rd., Unity. 207-948-1777

Matthew Secich, on his formative food experience:

“One year, I think I was 10 years old, my grandma asked me what I wanted to eat for my birthday. They had just moved from a farm to a golf course, in Akron, Ohio. There were these ducks outside on the golf course, and I told my grandma I’d like to have a duck. She gave me some bread and I went out there with my little sisters and fed the ducks. Then my grandma walked out an asked me which one I wanted to eat. She grabbed that mallard, rung its neck, and brought it inside. She dipped it in boiling water, and I plucked all the feathers off. She showed me the carcass and opened the cavity up and explained what everything was. We baked that bird, and I had that for my birthday. She taught me that there’s life and there’s death and there’s a resurrection of life that most people will never see. I think that right there changed my life in many ways, even though I didn’t remember those things until much later in life, after I got out of the military in my late 20s and was trying to figure out what to do with myself. When you cook, you’re sharing something, if that makes any sense. Man can’t be selfish with food. When you have an opportunity to sit down and share a meal with someone, in many ways you’re sharing your heart. With the charcuterie, we make a lot of friends, because we’re there to listen. I don’ t care if I sell anything. Being able to be a friend to somebody, I find a greater blessing in that than selling anything.”