14 July 2003 | By John Newton
A true artisan of Italian meats and specialities
Pino Tomini Foresti began as a boy, helping his Uncle Frank make smallgoods, by hand, in the family shop in Calabria.
"There are not many butchers like that left. Even in Italy today, most smallgoods are made in the factory, not artigano [by hand], the way dio commande [literally, God ordered]."
Today, Tomini Foresti makes his beautiful salami, prosciutto, coppa, pancetta and cotecchino by hand in the back of his immaculate shop in Kogarah.
"I only make salami in winter," he says. "It's the traditional way. The pork is better and the cold weather helps with the process."
Tomini Foresti arrived in Australia in 1972, working in shops in Mount Pritchard and Cabramatta before buying his present shop in 1978. It was while working at Mount Pritchard that he met Pia, a customer. She fell for the handsome young butcher and they were married in 1977. Their children have grown up and she works with him as, he says, "my right hand".
"We had problems in the beginning with Australian customers," he says. "They'd walk in, see my salamis hanging from the hooks and ask what they were. We'd tell them and they'd say, 'But they look different.'
"But in the last six or seven years they come in and ask for things that surprise me. I had one customer ask me for coglioni di mulo - it means mule's balls; it's a salami. I know it because I used to make it. I said to myself, 'These people are travelling now and they're interested in food.' "
Tomini Foresti is the latest in this line of home cooking heroes. From him, we have learnt what salami and other Italian smallgoods should be - and can be. Although his business is expanding (having outgrown the back of the shop, he's opening a small factory on the Central Coast), you'll still find him experimenting in the Kogarah shop, happy to give you a taste of, and tell you about, his latest creation.