Coro, the Italian word for chorus, is a metaphor for not only the chorus of non-traditional flavors in Coro meats but also the chorus of voices that come together to bring Coro to the world.
CEOs Clara Veniard and Martinique Grigg are moms, makers, and longtime friends. Their passion for food drives them to
continuously taste, experiment, and improve.
Check out our Q&A to discover the unique harmony and innovation of this dynamic she-duo of charcuterie.
How did you meet?
CLARA: We’ve been close friends for over a decade. We went to the same college and graduate school (Dartmouth and Harvard Business School) but we actually met for the first time while skiing on Mount Baker Mountain in Washington State. We like to say it is our passion for life and food that really brought us together.
MARTINIQUE: As we struck up a natural friendship, our professional aspirations started to come to the surface. We were both in the same phase of life, both moms of elementary school-aged children. We each have a business background and a passion for creating products, and we’ve always bonded over getting our families together to break bread. This has always been a big part of our friendship story. Clara is originally from Argentina and used to have an empanada business. She also edited cookbooks for James Beard Award-winning chefs.
CLARA: When I came into this, a lot of my family and my friends in Argentina, knowing my personal passions and family’s background, were like, ‘Oh my gosh! Finally, you’re back where you truly belong.’
How did salami become your purveyor destiny?
MARTINIQUE: We knew we had this love of food so we started looking in the Seattle area for what would excite us.
CLARA: We are both big fans of making charcuterie boards and grazing boards. We noticed the charcuterie aisle didn’t have the same creativity and richness that you see in cheese, chocolate, coffee and craft beer.
MARTINIQUE: All these crazy inventive flavors were being offered in those categories. However, in cured meats, there were a lot of opportunities to bring what we love to the table, ‘Invention with Intention,’ to create an
intentional workplace environment.’
How did you make the dream a reality?
MARTINIQUE: We started having conversations with different companies in the area. We found the company Salumi and the family was looking to retire. We knew about their amazing products.
CLARA: Everything really matched up perfectly so we took over the business and apprenticed with the family to learn the craft and trade. Then we basically took it to the next level.
Please speak to Coro salami being delightfully casing-free.
CLARA: So the salami gets put into a casing for fermentation and aging.
MARTINIQUE: But what we heard from people is the confusion about whether they should eat the casing or not. Because after aging process, the casing does not have a role.
CLARA: I remember my 87-year old father eating a salami sandwich. Whoever made it hadn’t removed the casing. So the entire time, my Dad was picking casing out of his teeth and he had a little pile going. And I thought, no, we can’t be doing this with our product.
MARTINIQUE: So we took the step of peeling it to make it easier for our consumers to enjoy. It’s funny how people stick to the practice of something just because that’s the way it has always been. You can’t have progress this way.
CW greatly supports the ongoing paradigm shift of women rising in culinary. Anything to offer about how women can kick-ass in charcuterie just as well as the ‘men folk?’
MARTINIQUE: Neither of us are strangers to being the only woman in the room from our business school and professional experiences. This actually really motivates us. We might be the one, if not the only certified “woman owned” charcuterie business out there. (I can think of one other female CEO running a charcutier company, but I’m not aware of any other certified female owned charcuterie businesses).
CLARA: It’s one of our core values to create pathways for underrepresented genders.
What should chefs know about Coro?
MARTINIQUE: Our bold and delicious flavor profiles really set us apart. Once someone tastes our salami they keep coming back for more. In addition to inventive flavors, we create with intentional ingredients, process and practices. We source the highest quality pork from a collective of family farms that are American humane certified. The pork is never ever treated with antibiotics and vegetarian fed. Our ingredients are all natural, including our cure which is a proprietary all natural cure we developed. And we’ve fine-tuned our dry cure and fermentation processes to ensure the slow aging brings out the richness of our flavors but also maintains our high standards for consistent quality.
CLARA: We really believe that all these factors affect the flavors of Coro products. We also pride ourselves in our labor practices and how we run our company. We believe how you treat your employees affects how they show up to work. You have to have people that really love what they’re doing.
MARTINIQUE: To sum it all up, if you want something different that’s really going to surprise and delight your customers as soon as they put it in their mouths; something they’ve never experienced before, then Coro is for you. And the final benefit is that you’re supporting a company that cares about the practices and ingredients that they use and how they treat people.