There's a family-run sausage factory in L.A., and it's making Fritzi dogs

Chef Neal Fraser and partner John Moshay are joining the ranks of gastronomic adventurers who want to take the mystery out of your hot dog. Their newly opened Fritzi Dog at the Farmers Market is the latest venture to make that dog a gourmet dog, like Culver City's Let's Be Frank and Pasadena's Dog Haus and Slaw Dogs.

Fraser, who runs BLD in the Fairfax district, and Moshay are serving up artisanal dogs made in small batches at Papa Cantella's factory in Vernon, just southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

"People say, 'Wow, $6.25 for a hot dog?'" said Moshay while wearing a long white coat and hair net, watching his dogs being made at the factory. "But with our ingredients, they have to be."

Papa Cantella's, run by Toni Cantella, whose father, Tom, started the business in 1980, makes natural sausages and prepared meals for many companies including Trader Joe's and Fritzi Dog. Tom Cantella, who used to be an antique collector and dealer, started selling his sausages to markets before it turned into a larger operation in Vernon. 

The factory makes 4,000 sausages per batch for Fritzi Dog including the Porker Dog made of pork, French spices and a hint of curry; a Deli Dog made with Kosher beef; the Bird Dog with turkey and duck meat; the Stadium Dog with smoky pork and beef; and the Cali Dog made with beef and pork, spicy merguez and Chilean merken. 

A signature 7-inch Fritzi dog is $6.25 and Fritzi sells anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 sausages every month. 

It's an all day process that begins at 6 in the morning in the 40 degree factory when whole pieces of meat are brought into the facility and prepared for the sausages. Fritzi's "Porker" starts with whole pieces of pork butt and the Deli Dog is made of chopped cuts of meat you'd find ready to buy at a grocery store.

The meat is ground or chopped and mixed with a special blend of spices. Some of the spices are mixed in house in a spice room where there are bins and plastic bags of cardamom, salt, pepper, paprika and more and also large bags of fresh spinach and trays of other ingredients such as dried apples.

The Fritzi dogs are encased in natural casings and steamed and smoked in large ovens at 160 degrees. 

Toppings for the Fritzi dogs include crushed paprika chips, BBQ aioli and peppers on the Memphis BBQ Dog; wasabi aioli, peas, nori and Sriracha ketchup on the Tokyo Dog; and bacon, onions, ketchup, mayo and jalapenos on the LA Street Dog. And if you're a vegetarian, you can forgo the sausages completely for a carrot dog made with a sous-vide then grilled carrot cooked in 26 Arabic spices ($5). 

6333 West 3rd Street, Stall # 742, Los Angeles, (323) 936-9436, fritzidog.com.

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