Who we are
As a trailblazer and entrepreneur, Mitch Berliner’s endeavors over the past forty years have put him in the forefront of Washingtonians who have been instrumental in making this area a world-class food market. Today seasonal farm markets and freshly made food to go are familiar to most people, but Mitch did both and started the gourmet-to-go concept fresh out of college in 1971. Expanding into natural and super premium ice creams in 1974, Mitch founded Berliner Foods introducing people in the mid-Atlantic to some of their favorite treats: Haagen Dazs, Ben & Jerrys, Dove Bars and numerous other high quality and organic frozen products. After Edy’s acquired his business in 1985, Mitch opened Berliner Specialty Distributors and introduced an array of organic and specialty foods to the area. Always the trendsetter and innovator, Mitch helped develop products for American Café, was a founding partner of Louisiana Express restaurant in Bethesda and has consulted for many food establishments in Washington.
Among the many philanthropic organizations that Mitch is involved with, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Jean-Louis Palladin Foundation, on the fundraising committees of Share Our Strength and The Washington Capital Area Food Bank. In 2007, Mitch was inducted into the Maryland Food Industry Hall of Fame for his contribution to the food industry and his longstanding involvement with numerous charitable and civic organizations. He serves on the board of Bethesda Green and is back to his roots of bringing the best fresh foods to the area as co-founder of Central Farm Markets.
Keeping to the mission of bringing great, locally sourced foods to the area, Mitch along with his wife Debra Moser and partner Stanley Feder founded MeatCrafters two years ago.
Stanley Feder was a serious cook and a foodie before the term was coined. In the 1960s, as a teenager in New York and later in Boston, Stan sought out new eating experiences among family-run ethnic restaurants and the best ingredients—and there were plenty in those cities before celebrity chefs, Dean & Delucca, the current Balducci’s, and Whole Foods. When Stan found the food at college mediocre he started cooking delicious meals on a hot plate in his dorm room. By the end of his sophomore year, Stan had cooked his way through two Indian cookbooks, filling his dorm with exotic aromas.
On Stan’s first trip to France in 1972 he had charcuterie for the first time. It was love at first bite. On returning home, Stan bought Jane Grigson’s Charcuterie and Fresh Pork Cookery and soon was producing salt pork and an array of sausages and pâtés. In retrospect it’s clear that he was more devoted to great cooking than he was to political science in which he has a Ph.D.
After a satisfying career as a research political scientist at the CIA (not the Culinary Institute of America) and a less satisfying stint in consulting, Stan’s passion landed him in the food business. It was clear to him that the Washington area needed high quality salamis and sausages on a par with those found in France and Italy.
In 2005 Stan founded Simply Sausage. Along the way Stan did two short apprenticeships with European-trained Master of Sausage making Jan Van der Lieck in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2007 Chef José Andres sent Stan to northern Spain to learn the fine points of making Catalan sausages. Stan returned to Spain again in 2010 to learn to make Catalan dried sausages such as fuet and chorizo.
Stan is a member of Slow Food, a charter member of the National Capital Area chapter of the American Institute of Food and Wine, and a former director of The Regional Food Council/Local Food, a not-for-profit that worked to strengthen links between small farmers and the citizens of the greater Washington, DC, area. He was part of the team that organized the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market in Washington, DC.
In partnering with Mitch Berliner and Debra Moser, Stan will realize his dream of making salamis and other dried charcuterie and salami.
For over 30 years Debra Moser has guided businesses and non-profits in marketing, new media and strategic planning and is now bringing that expertise and her creativity to MeatCrafters. In addition, to her business acumen, Debra has a professional certification in pastry from L’Academie de Cuisine. Her former company LillieBelles offered upscale savory and sweet pies and other foods at area farm markets.
Before she let her culinary spirit loose, Debra was the founding Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for the Visual Arts in Rockville. She is a member of Women Chefs & Restaurants and a board member of the Bethesda Urban Partnership Arts & Entertainment District.
While putting in her time as the mother of a growing family, Debra also co-founded EDI Consulting, a strategic planning and international business development firm. She was an adjunct professor for the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University in Marketing and Strategy for over ten years, and has been a contributor to AARP Online Health and Fitness Magazine.
Her passion for food and photography was evident in a recent exhibition at Strathmore Art Center entitled “You Are What You Eat”. Debra’s culinary creativity is now in full force at Central Farm Markets where she is the Marketing, Media and Special Events Director and in MeatCrafters as partner. She will be working to expand the business online and nationally.
Alex Mejia has been a chef in the DC area since 1998. While working at the restaurant Andalucia he met chef Jose Andres. Three years later Chef Andres hired Alex to work at Jaleo in Washington, DC. As a sous chef, Alex managed the kitchen at Jaleo for 11 years and helped Andres open new restaurants including Oyamel, Mini Bar, and Zaytinya.
In 2005 Simply Sausage (which grew into MeatCrafters) began making Spanish recipe sausages for Jose Andres. Five years later, Alex’s path crossed with Stan’s. Soon after, Alex came to work at Simply Sausage where Alex developed a new range of culinary skills. He and Stan discovered that Alex was a natural charcutier. He had (and still has) a fine intuitive feel for making sausages, salamis, and other dried meat products. Stan soon transferred to Alex the responsibilities of chief sausage maker and put him in charge of the production room. As Alex’s feel for our products and processes grew, he created or adapted traditional recipes to our production processes. He gets the credit for MeatCrafters Chajari, Sopressata, and Chorizo de Pamplona salamis and for the Chorizo de Oaxaca and Charro Habanero sausage recipes. In 2015 when Simply Sausage become MeatCrafters, Alex was given a stake in the new company.
Alex has grown and continues to grow professionally at MeatCrafters. After 20 years in the food industry he applies his talent for adapting recipes for sausages and salamis from all over the world and for creating new ones.
This is who we are.