After cultivating a taste for specialty meats during his years in Italy, Alin Macsim returned to Romania to start his own business. It currently produces and sells artisan salami under the brand name Gustarea Regelui (which would translate to The King’s Snack) in Timisoara and plans to add tastier treats to the offering, all made using traditional techniques.
Alin Macsim is a 36-year-old foodie who developed a taste for specialty meats over his years studying and working in Italy. Born in Timisoara, the largest city in western Romania, he left the country after high school to continue his studies abroad. This is how he started a new life with many challenges but also many achievements, both personally and professionally.
“After graduating from high school in 2004, my family and I decided to continue my studies in Italy. We had family friends there, and they advised me to start preparing for the exam of admission to the faculty in Italian, a language with which I had no contact until then.. After several months of bureaucratic difficulties, because at that time I needed a visa/permit to stay, I got to college,” said Alin Macsim The insider from Romania.
And although he struggled a bit with the language in the first few weeks, his efforts paid off pretty quickly, and he started to really enjoy his new life away from home.
“It was a time of major change, full of difficulties and satisfactions. Luckily, there is a lot to love about Italy. You can find relaxed people, beautiful cities, beautiful sea and good food everywhere in the country. And since I loved good food since I was a kid, I started to make it a passion,” says Alin.
A new path opened up for Alin in his sophomore year of college when a doctor he met offered him a job at his practice. His first job in Italy, in a town close to the sea and the mountains. He continued to work there until he graduated from university and moved to Venice, where he found a new job in a clinic. “I worked here for many years, I met many different people and traditions,” he recalls.
At this new job, Alin also befriended some of the patients who were returning for treatment. And some showed their appreciation by bringing him all kinds of treats produced by them, including homemade sausages. This is how he began to discover the special taste and flavors of artisanal salami – a life-changing moment for a foodie like Alin, who had always been passionate about gastronomy. Thus, he began to research and learn about this kind of product, and even had the opportunity to visit some wineries where people produced such delicacies.
“It made me dream that one day I would have my own stone-covered cellar, in which I would dry sausages and cheeses for my family and friends,” said Alin Macsim. Years later, his dream came true.
In 2017, Alin decided to return to Romania – his real homeland. Back in Timisoara, he began to flirt a little with the idea of creating a product similar to those he had the opportunity to taste in Italy. However, it took him three years to finally find the courage to take this step.
He made the first tests in a small improvised drying room where he installed temperature and humidity sensors, thermostats and humidifiers, to create the right environment for the experiments. Looking back at that time, he said, “The first results were a failure, but I learned and optimized the whole process until I decided to go ahead and test. on friends what I had managed to create.”
He ended up loving this whole process so much that he decided to take it a step further and look for a space for a lab. After a long process of arranging the space and obtaining the required approvals, which required an initial investment of 16,000 euros “plus a few thousand more in the first 2 months”, his small business began to operate. . He opened the lab in the pandemic year of 2021, and things have been going pretty well so far, with production and demand on the rise.
“Once the lab was open, it took me three months to study all the details to bring the curing room up to the parameters required for the products to come out the way I wanted, plus the time needed for the first products to be completely hardened. But it was worth the wait, and the salami proved itself from the first customer,” said Alin Macsim.
Gustarea Regelui dry salami is not only tasty but also healthier than other options on the market. It does not contain nitrites or nitrates, added sugars, starch, vegetable proteins or dyes. It is made only with pork, salt, pepper, garlic and wine, and the slightly spicy version also contains hot pepper powder.
But Alin wants to add more goodies to her offer and continues to experiment with other types of products. For example, he made mortadella according to a 150-year-old recipe which he cooked for 16 hours, dried sausages according to a French recipe from the 1920s, fresh sausages with different seasonings, salami specially created for pizza, hot sandwiches and others.
For now, however, the classic and spicy salami, both dry-cured and wrapped in a noble mold, are the only products permanently produced in Alin’s lab. Those who want to try Gustarea Regelui artisanal salami can buy it online, on the Facebook page, but remember that deliveries are only made in Timisoara and its surroundings. The price is 110 RON/kg and one piece weighs around 400 grams.
“Soon, foodies who enjoy Gustarea Regelui will be able to order directly from our website, where we also hope to list other products we are preparing and patiently waiting to cure. Until then, we are keeping in touch on Facebook, where our community of friends got together,” Alin said.
As the interview drew to a close, he added: “And because I really like what I do here, at home, and I’m happy to have added this dream to my baggage of experiences, I I also have a tip for anyone who wants to go home and start a business. Don’t be afraid to do what you love. I would even tell them to obsess over the results to the level of art. Then the difficulties don’t really matter anymore because the satisfaction will come from the appreciation of others for what you produce More and more young people are coming home and taking this step with courage and I’m happy about that The market is ready to receive quality products and services. All it takes is a little courage or madness and patience.”
Irina Marica, [email protected]
(Photos: courtesy of Alin Macsim)