Casa Sendra, Passion for Charcuterie
In August of 2014, the owner of seventy-year-old sausage company Can Duran acquired Casa Sendra, an iconic brand of Spanish salchichón that was founded in 1849 in the city that is now famed for these types of sausages: Vic (Barcelona province, Catalonia). Today, this brand continues to respect the artisanal quality, traditional roots, and age-old recipe and elaboration techniques that have made Casa Sendra a symbol of gourmet Spanish sausage
Casa Sendra, Can Duran, Bofill and El Ángel are four brands of quality Spanish sausages that fall under the recently created umbrella brand Splendid Foods. Together these brands offer consumers a variety of styles and characteristics that range from traditional sausages, to additive-free, organic and gourmet versions, among others. Of these brands, there is no doubt about which wears the company's badge of honor: Casa Sendra, a line of products that Splendid Foods owner and Chief Executive David García-Gassull, refers to as "the oldest and most prestigious salchichón in Vic".
Foods and Wines from Spain talked to García-Gassull about this brand of gourmet, 100% organic sausages, which are referred to as llonganissa in Catalán and longaniza in Spanish, the name typically used for this type of long, thin salchichón sausage.
Tell me a little bit about the history of the company and the tradition of longaniza sausage in Vic.
Ours is the first and oldest longaniza in Vic, the capital of Osona, a town historically tied to sausage making. Casa Sendra has maintained the same philosophy since 1849 (under different ownership and across generations): a commitment to a top-quality sausage made with the very best local products, using an artisanal process that preserves its essence and respects its origins.
We acquired Casa Sendra in 2014, just a few months after it disappeared, with the objective of respecting its unalterable recipe and artisanal elaboration process to produce a singular product of maximum quality. In fact, the recipe, the ingredients and the elaboration and curing processes haven't changed since 1849.
What are the most important factors that differentiate these products from the competition, and have most contributed to the brand's success?
Casa Sendra's salchichón has been positioned as one of the most popular among gourmets since its recovery in early 2015. It is made using only the noblest, most carefully selected cuts of pork (ham, shoulder, loin and belly), and cured for a lengthy period of time until attaining its optimum quality and the perfect combination between lean and fatty meat. That makes it one of a kind.
Casa Sendra's products are made in a specific workshop and curing room inside our modern installations, which are located surrounded by nature in Seva, next to Montseny Natural Park. All of these factors contribute to preserving a legacy that goes back more than 165 years.
Where do the ingredients used in your products come from?
The choice cuts of meat all come from carefully selected pigs that have been fattened on small farms in the area, specifically chosen for their low production volume and proximity. The idea of using "kilometer zero" ingredients has been one of the brand's principal characteristics ever since its early days, when the pork came from pigs slaughtered in people's homes. This contributes to the artisanal process of producing a longaniza that is unequaled in flavor, with a style of its own.
What is the elaboration process and how have you combined your products' artisanal nature with modern processes and food safety requirements?
For this new generation of Casa Sendra salchichón, the exclusive, artisanal processes that characterize this brand have been preserved. Keeping this traditional formula, in addition to using innovative resources and installations, have made it possible to maintain its exceptional quality and unmatched flavor. Additionally, today's technology makes it possible to guarantee an unquestionable level of food safety.
After the pork is ground, the right amount of salt and pepper are added, and nothing else, thereby attaining a product that is 100% natural. The hand stuffing of the sausages into natural pig casings is key to making authentic salchichón. Finally, each piece is tied off with a length of Egyptian hemp rope and identified with a medal that indicates the week when it was stuffed.
These coveted sausages come in three different formats: cular superior, cular superior mini and semicular. The longaniza culares are seasoned with salt, ground white pepper and whole black peppercorns, and stuffed into double-layer natural casings, before being cured from 17 to 20 weeks. For its part, the semicular variety is seasoned with salt and just ground white pepper, stuffed into single-layer natural casings, and cured from 12 to 15 weeks.
Tell me a little about the Casa Sendra showroom.
It is an exhibition space for the brand and the product, as well as a store. It is located on Vic's central Verdaguer Street, and serves to convey the essence of the brand.Visitors are generally locals or they come from surrounding areas, and particularly during the summer holidays, they come from the rest of Spain.
What is Club Sendra?
Club Casa Sendra consists of a space (online) created for gourmets, professionals and people with ties to the world of gastronomy. It contains interesting content including interviews and special offers, and it is disseminated by way of an exclusive "passport". It also organizes events like tastings.
What is Casa Sendra's production volume and where are its products sold?
Casa Sendra will produce approximately 30,000 kilos of longaniza this year; products which are sold in the gourmet sections of large department stores (like El Corte Inglés), and at specialty gourmet shops.
Do you export all three formats
Yes, we began exporting to European countries like Belgium, the United Kingdom and France – our main targets – though a majority of our products are consumed in Spain. The most popular product in terms of export is the longaniza cular superior. It is increasingly available in more and more gourmet shops and delicatessens in the European countries where we are introducing this product.
Is the export market growing
Splendid Foods' exports (primarily Can Duran) currently account for 5% of our production. They grow every year by around 10%. Our objective is to reach a minimum 25% of export volume. With regard to Casa Sendra, we are just beginning to reach beyond the Spanish market.
Are there any new export markets opening
We hope to grow, especially in Europe and Asia. We are working on it.
Do you think that people outside of Spain associate these products with your region as something typical and traditional from there
Absolutely. I believe that Casa Sendra has become a gastronomic ambassador for products from here.
Casa Sendra, Can Duran, Bofill and El Ángel are four brands of quality Spanish sausages that fall under the recently created umbrella brand Splendid Foods. Together these brands offer consumers a variety of styles and characteristics that range from traditional sausages, to additive-free, organic and gourmet versions, among others