2016 – CBS – “Chicago Salvager Acquires Trove Of Berkels, The ‘Cadillac Of Meat Slicers”



(CBS) — Plates of precisely cut salumi put Quartino Restaurant on the map.

“Look how thin this is. You couldn’t do that by knife,” Chef John Coletta tells CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole.

He says he couldn’t do it without a Berkel slicer, and he’s got four vintage models sitting on his shelf.

“In order to get these refurbished it’s next to impossible. You have to send them to Italy,” Coletta says.

Stuart Grannen of Architectural Artifacts agrees there’s nothing like a Berkel.

“They were the Tiffany, the Cadillac of the meat slicers,” he says.

His salvage emporium in Ravenswood has 30 completely restored vintage Berkels dating back to the 1890’s.

Dutch butcher Wilhelmus Van Berkel invented the slicer, which was powered by often elaborate hand cranks. A fly wheel blade cuts through meats and is kept sharp by a circular stone. The gleaming metal slicers often sit atop intricate pedestals.

They were made in Rotterdam and also in Milano and for a time crafted nearby in La Porte, Ind.  Repainted and polished, they sell for between $15,000 and $85,000.

Grannen found himself buying one at the Berkel museum in Parma, Italy, when owner Paolo Bottanelli — a well-known Italian butcher – told him he would sell all of his machines.

Now, the cutting-edge collector’s items are on the North Side of Chicago.