Berliner echoes that sentiment. He is still a partner in MeatCrafters, the Potomac-based charcuterie business that was originally built around Stachowski’s talents. The two men parted ways over various disagreements, Berliner says, but it had nothing to do with Stachowski’s character. It’s true, he says, that Stachowski doesn’t suffer fools; that’s a professional necessity in the food business.
“If you work in kitchens, you can’t,” Berliner says. “If you put out bad food, you’re usually not going to get a second shot.”
As he moves about Stachowski’s, in the former Griffin Market space on 28th Street NW, the elder Stachowski rolls out some of his expansive philosophies. They include thoughts on butcher shops (“We don’t do that precious thing where the case is filled with two or three things”), top-quality meats (it requires an excellent animal, good marbling and dry aging) and how to succeed in Georgetown (you must be a fullservice butcher with a wide selection of meats as well as restaurant-quality meals to take home). He sometimes repeats those philosophies a second or third time, either a perfectionist’s need to control the message or an adult with ADD.
Jamie Stachowski is clearly the guiding light of the new business, which is not at all surprising until you learn that the market is registered solely under Josef’s name. Papa Stachowski says there are reasons for that. First of all, the market was Josef’s idea. Second, the younger Stachowski had tried the college route but discovered it was not his thing. “We’re not schoolboys,” Jamie says, a sort of conspiratorial pride creeping into his voice. The market is now serving as Josef’s business school.
“I wanted him to feel the weight of responsibility,” Jamie says. (What Dad doesn’t mention is that the District has a lien against him for delinquent taxes, prohibiting him from securing a business license.)
It’s a responsibility that Josef Stachowski wasn’t sure he even wanted. As the younger of two children born to restaurant parents, Josef grew up in kitchens and dining rooms. “I think it was good for them,” says Carolyn Stachowski of putting their children to work early. “They had to sort of become independent a little younger.”
Josef first went to work at age 11 at Pesce, where he washed dishes and grilled squid. He doesn’t recall being paid. (“No, you don’t pay these kids, they’re family,” Dad says.) At Restaurant Kolumbia, the only job Josef didn’t perform was bartender — and that’s only because he was underage. He later worked as an expediter at Central Michel Richard.
“After Kolumbia, I said I would never work with Jamie again,” says Josef. “After Central, I said I wouldn’t work in restaurants again.”
But after souring on school, Josef found himself working for his father again, this time at Stachowski Brand Charcuterie, the chef’s protein-based business that sells fresh sausages and cured meats to restaurants and at farmers markets. The son has proven adept at the meat game — to a point. “There’s still a lot of little issues,” the demanding father told me back before Stachowski’s opened in April. “He’s very smart. He’s a beast, and he tackles everything.”
“The only real issue is me letting him make mistakes,” Jamie adds.
Josef Stachowski seems quite different from his father, both physically and temperamentally. At 6 feet 3 inches tall, Josef has a good nine inches on his dad. He’s also much quieter. Josef calls his father by his first name, a habit that began early when Dad demanded to be addressed as either “Jamie” or “chef” in the restaurant. “I said I couldn’t call him ‘chef,’ ” Josef says.
But if you ask the son what it’s like to work with his father again, the younger man sounds an awful lot like his elder. “He really [ticks] me off,” Josef says.
Josef also has some of his father’s perfectionism. The son was the one arguing that Stachowski’s wasn’t ready to open in April; they didn’t have enough meats to sell yet. But once Dad convinced him that they needed to start earning cash, both father and son quickly discovered the unique thrills of selling their line of dry-aged meats, sausages and hand-made sandwiches to Georgetowners.
One day a customer called to order 18 prime steaks, 14 ounces apiece, cooked sous-vide and seared — oh, and delivered in precisely 45 minutes, at 7:30 p.m. on the nose. That no doubt came at price, right?
“Yes,” Jamie Stachowski grins. “Close to $1,000.”
Summer Melon Slaw With Honey-Lavender Vinaigrette
Georgetown Butcher Tartare