There’s nothing unusual about David Pearlstien’s Wallingford house, until you walk into his converted garage. “The first time the USDA inspector walked in he said, ‘We are not going to use the ‘G’ word anymore, this is not a garage,'” Pearlstein says.
Pearlstein working in what used to be his garage.
It’s true. Pearlstein’s garage is now a “USDA inspected and approved meat-processing facility.”
The cocktail of spices measured for different varieties of sausage
In his “USDA inspected and approved meat-processing facility” Pearlstein makes sausage – 19 different varieties. Pearlstein is the man behind Link Lab Artisan Meats.
Pearlstein adding spices into the meat
About a year ago, Pearlstein wanted to take his sausage-making hobby and make it a business. “I knew I could make sausage but can I wrestle with the USDA regulations?” he says. There are a lot of rules and regulations that Pearlstein must follow and he is visited everyday by a USDA inspector.
Pearlstein tries to buy local whenever possible, down to the beer for his beer brats.
Back in January he got his sought-after approval and started his commercial operation. Pearlstein prides himself in using local meat. “I’m trying as hard as I can to work with farmers who go to farmers markets. The local ones that are very accessible and excited to tell you and share all of their processes,” he says. “I like to visit all the farmers, I like to understand who they are and why they care about what they’re doing.”
Everything on the label must be approved by the USDA.
Pearlstein makes sausages like chorizo, beer brats and spiced lamb and pork links, but he says they taste different than many. “The flavors, the combinations, the varieties, I think are different than you’re going to find anywhere,” he says. “But even the familiar ones, the Italian sausage, it’s that much fresher and brighter because I’m using spices that are coming from a local spice shop.”
The finishing touches.
Link Lab Meats are available at the Virginia Mason Farmers Market on Friday afternoons, Sunset Hill Green Market in Ballard and at several restaurants. Pearlstein also does a monthly trip to the Microsoft campus where he delivers pre-ordered sausage. More information on Link Lab can be found here.