Taylor Knapp, the chef at First and South, is starting a new business: the business of snails. He and a former co-worker, Sean Nethercott, will be building a greenhouse on the grounds of a Peconic Land Trust incubator in Cutchogue to grow the only fresh escargot available in the U.S. As of now, the only choices chefs have are canned or frozen snails. So the duo decided it was time for a change and have put their project on Kickstarter to see if an appetite for snails is what the public wants.
“We found there’s a pretty high demand,” says Knapp. “We did a lot of research, to see if it was going to be viable. And I think it’s definitely a viable business venture.” According to Knapp, there’s one operation in Washington State that grows snails, but contrary to his business proposal, the snails are grown in open pens, which is not what’s going to happen Peconic Escargot. He is also working with a zoologist from the USDA to perfect the food for the snails—mostly vegetation—and the soil.
While not a local product, snails are high in protein, says Knapp, and very adaptive to the flavors they’re cooked with as well as tasting similarly to what they’ve just eaten. Expect a pound of Peconic Escargot to run you about $35 to $40 with about 100 snails per pound.
So far, the project has received almost $6,000 towards its $35,000 goal with 19 days left.
From the Kickstarter page:
Taylor and Sean are raising funds to build an energy efficient, sustainable greenhouse operation in beautiful Cutchogue New York, on the North Fork of Long Island. It will be, once completed, the only escargot farm of its kind. For months, they’ve been working with the Peconic Land Trust and the USDA to ensure that it is a viable project for both the North Fork of Long Island and the restaurant and home cooking industries.
Peconic Escargot is determined to offer a superior product from conception to the dinner plate. Our snails will be fed a healthy diet of locally foraged greens and herbs. All organic, GMO free, and natural.
Peconic, in addition to the Peconic Bay that the farm land will sit near, refers to a Native American word meaning “nut trees”, which happen to be abundant in the area. We’re toying around with the idea of finishing the snails on foraged nuts and acorns, much like the famed Iberico pigs of Spain. How cool is that?
After the snails live a long and sunny life, they’ll be packaged into clean vacuum sealed bags. These will preserve the flavor and texture, while allowing us to ship the snails anywhere in the country – and eventually, the world. The escargot will be shipped overnight to you, or hand delivered if you live in the area. Our escargot will NEVER be canned or frozen. Ever.