7 June, 2022
Road kill tasting good in Ravenshoe
AFTER years of trying out their beef jerky recipes on family and friends, diesel fitter and sole trader, Nyree Burnell and her machinery operator partner, Andy Hoffman, have created their own boutique business in Ravenshoe
“We moved up to the Tablelands from Cairns around 10 years ago and while home on our days off from the mines, we loved experimenting with different food products to create new flavours,” Nyree said.
“Our friends planted the idea in our heads that we could make our hobby into a good little business, so just over a year ago we decided to give it a go.
But when you have no experience in the industry, it is a huge learning curve full of hurdles and tricks of the trade.
“Once we got a bit of direction, we got local tradesman, Greg Barr, to build a butcher shop on our block.
Because we are supplying a ready-to eat product, our business operates at one accreditation level above a butcher shop, so everything has to be done right.
“We started from ground zero and have built to where we are processing 60kg of meat a day into 30kg of product.”
Meat used for the jerky couldn't be further from its attention grabbing name, “Ravenshoe Road Kill Beef Jerky”, chosen purely as a comic reference to the north Queensland joke about peeling squished marsupials off the highway and bringing them home for dinner.
“Most of the meat we buy is locally grown and comes from the Ravenshoe butchery,” Nyree said.
“To make good jerky, the meat needs to be lean. We usually buy whole topsides, which are sliced into strips, marinated, dried and packed over a three-day process.
“We don't like being limited to the basic, mild, medium and hot varieties.
We try to please as many people as we can and after a lot of trial and error, with a lot of scrapped marinade recipes along the way, we have locked our range down to five flavours.”
Nyree said the product had a 12-month shelf life, but they would rather make it to demand, to keep it fresh.
“We retail to pubs, butcher shops, service stations and general stores in Ravenshoe, Millaa Millaa, Babinda, Halifax, Cairns, west to The Oasis and south to Ingham,” she said.
“There was a substantial cost associated with launching this business in December 2020 and it was a bit of a gamble, but Covid has been a bonus to us, encouraging people to shop locally and keeping the demand growing.
“We did quite a bit of promotional stuff initially like selling at the markets to kick the business off, but now we sell it in bulk to the shops and let them worry about the individual sales.
“It seems to work better for our customers who can grab a few packets while they are at the butchers or the road house.
“If a heap of orders come in thick and fast, it can be a pretty full week, but other weeks can be a bit quieter, so it's still a bit early to give up our day jobs.
“The hot chilli variety goes nicely with a cold beer and a lot of people will grab 5-10 packets to take fishing or camping.’
And Nyree offered a hot tip for frustrated parents trying to keep some of the jerky for themselves and out of their kids’ hands: “Just hide them in the muesli bar box and they will never find them,” she said.