Herb and Kathy Eckhouse founded La Quercia and have worked in all aspects of the business: selecting and buying pork, salting, trimming, and handling hams and leading the small group of dedicated staff who participate in our production. We developed our own spice blends for our pancetta, lonza, bacon, guanciale, coppa, lardo, and prosciutto piccante; and whenever we can, we leave our desks to get our hands into the meat of the matter.
Kathy worked as a ranch hand and then as a researcher in Agricultural Economics at the University of California at Berkeley before she made home-making and mothering her primary occupation. A long time foodie (Berkeley born and raised) who lived in Europe for several years as a child and adolescent, Kathy is the person all of her friends describe as the best cook they know. She adds intuition and a fine food sense developed through years of making bread and pasta, inventing recipes, and reading cookbooks.
For Herb, this is his fifth career. He spent over thirty years in agriculture, from raising seed potatoes to working cattle to developing and marketing commodity crop and vegetable seeds. Before he and Kathy designed and built their prosciuttificio, he spent 5 years researching, experimenting, learning and making prosciutto at home.
Daughter Laurel completed her PhD in Political Science at UC Berkeley after her years with Teach for America and as an Outward Bound trip leader. She is now an Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Denver. Daughter Sara, having left her position as Senior Adviser to the Secretary of Agriculture is now the Executive Director of FoodShot Global--"a collaborative platform of innovators, investors, industry leaders and advocates..working together to solve our biggest food system challenges." Son Aaron is doing political field work in support of legislation that will address the systemic impediments to the development of affordable housing in California. All three have pitched in over the years: supporting La Quercia at The Fancy Food Show, handing out prosciutto samples in 45° weather, mopping floors, and, of course, offering plentiful opinions!
We have a great team of dedicated people–-Maria has been at La Quercia since 2006-- who learned the intricate work of making delicious prosciutto with us. No detail is too small to be examined and all practices are subject to review and re-evaluation. Everyone participates in making things better. We always appreciate feedback--we learn from what you like or don't like, so please let us know.
None of this work could happen without the consistently excellent work of our cleanup crew. They take over once the meat is put away and get everything clean and ready for inspection so that we can start again the next day.
Sebastian is now responsible for organizing the plant crew and working with our suppliers. That means getting people in the right place with the right tools to get their work done in time. With the different cuts of meats and their different cycles, there's always activity on the fresh side, the cured side, final trimming and slicing. It sometimes feels like a 5 ring circus with all the rings going at the same time. Sebastian loves working with meat, so he takes on this task with infectious enthusiasm and dedication to creating delicious food.