Salt and vinegar sausage, anyone? Meet Conception Bay North's Nigerian-born butcher

·3 min read

Jonathan Omiachi is getting ready for a move, one he hopes will help grow his small butcher business based in Victoria, N.L., a rural community near Carbonear on the Avalon Peninsula.

He's moving Omiachi Meat Shop to a bigger space, right next to his current location, and plans to hire help to ramp up production.

Omiachi was born and raised in Nigeria, studied business administration in Malaysia, and then made his way to Newfoundland for the one thing people on the Rock like to complain about the most: the weather.

"I love the cold," he told CBC Radio's On The Go. "I was reading on the coldest place in Canada, and it did come up that Newfoundland was cold — not the coldest, but cold. And for me, I don't like heat at all. So I decided to choose Newfoundland."

Omiachi continued his business studies in St. John's, and eventually got married and moved with his wife to Victoria, where he got the perfect job for a man who hates the heat.

Omiachi Meat Shop/Facebook
Omiachi Meat Shop/Facebook

"I did work for the Department of Transportation and Works driving the snowplow. It was really good. Everyone will look at me and be like, 'He's a black man from Nigeria and he's driving a truck where there was never a plow in Nigeria.' I said, 'You know what? You've got to start from somewhere,'" he said with a laugh.

The one everyone is really, really talking about is the salt and vinegar sausages. - Jonathan Omiachi

In Nigeria, Omiachi was responsible for killing and butchering the animals his family raised for food. At one point they had 300 hens, and it was his job to take care of them.

"I did all the butchering myself, and then we plucked them by hand.… Over the year we eat the chicken, and we have the beef, and we have the goat, and we have the sheep, and all that."

'Everyone loves local'

Now he is concentrating on growing Omiachi Meat Shop in Victoria, which he started after noticing a lack of options for people to buy locally raised meat.

"In Newfoundland here, most of the products are coming from the mainland," he said.

"I decided, 'You know what? I'll give it a chance,' because everyone loves local, everyone likes to support local. Even though I'm not from Newfoundland … I'm here for a while now so I am also a local."

He learned how to use a meat saw, a tool he didn't have growing up, and how to present meat for the public.

Omiachi Meat Shop/Facebook
Omiachi Meat Shop/Facebook

He's also taken his love of cooking — he had a hard time deciding between opening a restaurant or a meat shop — and created products that have become popular with his customers.

"I do salami, baloney, pepperoni, meatballs. I do have different flavours in sausages. The one everyone is really, really talking about is the salt and vinegar sausages. I'm the only one so far making salt and vinegar sausages. And I do also have sour cream and onion sausages and hamburger patties as well."

Omiachi hopes to be open in his new space in February.

He also plans to expand his business in St. John's. He already loads up a trailer and makes a trip into the city every couple of weeks with preorders for customers in the area.

Once he's up and running in his new building, Omiachi said, he'll be able to produce more product, and bring extra to sell to people passing by. He hopes to set up at the St. John's Farmers Market as well.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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