Cured & Whey’s J. Michael Stamm makes a mark in culinary culture — and shares favorites from his shelves
On weekdays around lunchtime, hungry Las Vegans in the know make a turn off Valley View Boulevard at Post Road. There, in the vast warehouse district west of the Strip, J. Michael Stamm’s Cured & Whey offers upscale deliciousness, from Andalusian quince paste to andouille sausages handcrafted in Temecula, Calif.
Originally from Heidelberg, Germany, Stamm first made his way to the U.S. as a chef at the 1984 Summer Olympics after university studies and military service. Eventually, a booming Las Vegas beckoned, leading to stints in hotel kitchens including Treasure Island. Then, in 1999, he began a wholesale supply business for Sin City chefs looking for niche ingredients. Eventually, in late 2016, he decided to open a retail storefront carrying all the charcuterie, rare cheeses, and beyond that chefs serve in their eateries.
“We had so many chefs walk through here buying foie gras, bacon, and cheeses,” says Stamm, sitting at one of Cured & Whey’s communal tables. “I just wanted to make the same products available to non-chefs.”
Cured & Whey, 6265 S. Valley View Blvd. #K, 702-429-3617, facebook.com/curedandwhey
Prosciutto from Cesare Casella
Cured & Whey brings in many of its suppliers to demonstrate their food, such as acclaimed butcher Cesare Casella, who was in town in March. He produces prosciutto hams in rustic Upstate New York that rival any from Europe or elsewhere in North America. It might be sliced thin, but it’s packed with umami sensation. Another noted cured meat is Hudson Valley applewood-smoked duck ham, which makes its way into a sensational Reuben sandwich along with puckery sauerkraut from Mrs. Klein’s Pickle Co. of Phoenix.
Aquarello Carnaroli rice
When home cooks see the word “risotto,” the picture of continually stirring a pot for 30 minutes might come to mind. Dispel that notion with Stamm’s favorite grain, Aquarello Carnaroli rice grown in Italy’s Piedmont by the mighty Po River. Dry-aged for 16 months, the flavor-laded gems can be cooked to creamy completion in 11 minutes. Nearby on the shelves, find gluten-free pasta from Pastificio Caponi.
Truffle products by Savini Tartufi
One of Stamm’s favorite product lines is from the Savini family of verdant Tuscany. He’s been importing their fragrant truffle butter, sauce, and salt for decades. They’re luxurious and elegant ingredients, but a little goes a long way, making for upscale bargains. He’s also an evangelist for DeCarlo extra virgin olive oil, also from Italy.
Boska cheese-making kits
While it’s certainly convenient to pick up a few pounds of aged curds like espresso-rubbed “Barely Buzzed” from Utah’s Beehive Cheese Co. or rind-washed “Red Hawk” Cowgirl Creamery at Cured & Whey, there’s also satisfaction in handcrafting cheese at home. Stamm carries a selection of kits from Holland’s Boska for making fresh mozzarella and chèvre. Other cooking implements include Himalayan salt slabs for roasting meats and vegetables.