Ash Razmi was on a trip in the States when he tasted his first quality craft beef jerky and couldn’t get enough. After he came back home he was determined to replicate those flavours and used a home dehydrator to try making his own jerky. It took him hundreds of attempts to get the balance perfect and because beef jerky is not made the same day there was lots of recording involved to see what worked.

Most of the biltong and jerky available in NZ is made by large manufacturing brands and has a long list of artificial ingredients. Ash didn’t want to create another tough, rubbery jerky that “can last forever and survive a bomb blast”. He decided that his company, Bootleg Jerky would make jerky that’s free of nitrites, nitrates, MSG or other additives with unpronounceable names.

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Since Ash worked full-time, he had to partner with a manufacturer who would agree to make the jerky to their exacting standards.

Since then, Bootleg Jerky has grown by leaps and bounds and they have now turned their garage into a custom-built licenced manufacturing facility inside – and no, they didn’t actually tie up the MPI food safety officer (see their instagram video to know what I mean!)

Bootleg Jerky’s secret to success is firstly creating a great product. “Our marinating process is simple. Meat plus marinade plus time, or rather, lots of time”. On the episode we talk about:

  • Why having a great product is important
  • Direct to consumer or being on the shelves, what’s the better strategy
  • Manufacturing journey – from garage to contract manufacturing to purpose built facility
  • How Bootleg Jerky spread the word