You may not know the Mayflower Cellars name, but you will soon. Jon Pilgrim started the company after a serious car accident in 2012 that left him unable to work. During his recovery time, he explored his passion for charcuterie and wine making, which eventually led him to fully immerse himself in both worlds. After several test runs, he and his wife transformed their two car garage into a full-blown industrial kitchen and wine cellar, and there was no going back to his previous life. Maybe you’ve met Pilgrim at the Downtown Farmer’s Market, or tried one of his sausages or burgers at Swamp Head or First Magnitude. If you have, you’ll know why he has come to be known as the “Master of Meats” to anyone who has spoken with him at length.
His passion starts with locally sourced ingredients. While competitors have accused him of not actually using local products, saying it’s impossible to do so at his volume, I’ve personally seen the types of relationships he has built with local vendors. Greenway Farms in Alachua and Lola Farms in Lake Butler are just two of the local farms that Pilgrim works with closely. They bond over a shared vision of sourcing ethically raised and sustainable ingredients. As a result, he’s churning out some of the best sausages you can get. Fast making a name for himself, Pilgrim is doing it all from a mobile food vending rig with minimal advertising.
The next step? Going brick and mortar. I spoke to Pilgrim, who said that he will begin searching for a space at the end of summer with plans to open a “Craft Butcher’s Pantry” that he hopes to operate by winter. In addition to sausages, prepared meats, dry aged beef, and charcuterie, he plans on expanding into cheese making, deli meats, and more exotic items like cured duck egg yolks and cured fish roe. His goal is to make what many people perceive to be intimidating “high-end ingredients” more approachable to the public, and to expand the culinary tastes of Gainesville residents. Don’t believe the hype? Just taste his meats and see…
By Ken Peng