Chef Christopher Lee, who helmed the kitchen at Chez Panisse between 1987 and 2003 and helped put Alice Waters’s locavore haven on the map, first immersed himself in Italian salumi-making in 1988. He wanted to cure his own prosciutto for the restaurant, but there was little information available in the US at the time. Under the tutelage of some of Italy’s most renowned curers and butchers, Lee spent the next decade visiting, observing and tasting in order to learn the process and technique behind this centuries-old tradition. Today, he oversees the in-house salumi program at New York City’s il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, the only restaurant in the city permitted to cure its own meats on-site. “Our model is the flavor of Italy,” says Lee of the dozen or so varieties he offers, including culatello, coppa and, yes, prosciutto.
Read on for 10 of Lee’s favorite butchers, food shops and restaurants in Umbria, Tuscany, Chianti and Emilia-Romagna, where you’ll find terrific salumi—straight from the source—among other delicious local foods.