By Hannah Hollins
Thirteen years ago, Alef Sausage company was created with the aspiration to produce European-style sausage in the United States. “We couldn’t find it before,” says Alec Mikhaylov, owner of Alef Sausage. Mikhaylov came from Donetsk, Ukraine in 1992, where he was a construction engineer. “All my life in Ukraine, I loved to cook things, to create.” Upon his arrival to the United States, Mikhaylov longed for an authentic taste of Europe—one he knew he could create. He switched professions in order to “do something about making a product that [he] couldn’t find in the stores.”
Initially, the brand operated production in a 2,000 square foot, USDA-inspected plant in Mundelein, Ill. It was at this location that Alef Sausage got permission to sell through other retailers. The retail connection eventually led to a relationship with a New Jersey distributor that brought Alef Sausage products to customers in New York and to customers on the West Coast. In 2005, Alef Sausage moved to a bigger, 16,000-sq. ft. plant, and renovated it with new equipment, including some of the best technology in the world. In 2010, Mikhaylov bought another acre of space to build out an additional 20,000 square feet. Today, the plant is about 36,000-sq. ft.
With every step, the company’s goal remains the same: to make a very good product, of the best quality, with authentic spiciness and without any fillers or artificial products. Alef Sausage’s commitment to the all-natural label satisfies a current demand. “People don’t want to eat chemical preservatives, sodium nitrate, sodium phosphate or sorbates,” says Mikhaylov. The company’s product line uses no additional fillers or artificial colors, no chemical products or preservatives and no liquid smoke. The meats are smoked with wood chips in an all-natural process.
Alef Sausage offers a number of different varieties of fully cooked sausages, dried shelf-stable salamis and bolognas made from pork, chicken and veal, as well as well as several other deli meats. All of the company’s products are ready-to-eat. “We were the first in the U.S. to make an all-natural, cooked, dried salami,” says Mikhaylov.
Today, the Alef Sausages brand is shipping 300,000 pounds a month to customers across the country. Alef Sausages directly ships its products to 40 states throughout the United States, and it also ships to distributors who then ship to stores outside that area, including to Canada. “I decided to create something new for my new country,” says Mikhaylov, “And so far, it’s working.”
For more information on Alef Sausage and the company’s product line, visit www.alefsausage.com or call 847.867.2402.