Eat, Drink And Be indie: Tasty Recipes, Inspiring Maker Stories & Exclusives

True Jerky

The gentlemen behind True Jerky are Californian: they're rugged, they're tough but mellow, they're bold. So it's no wonder that the vast, flat and often bland expanse of mass-produced beef jerky just didn't measure up for them. They needed a jerky up to par with their manly excellence – and so, like the true gentlemen they are, they didn't just complain. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work turning their own jerky dreams into reality, like the pioneers they are.

It all started with an old family jerky recipe (yeah, we know – we want in on that family, too). Jason Kurpjuwait started using his dad's recipe to make his own jerky at home with his roommate at the time, Michael Carvalho, using a couple of Nessco Dehydrators.

The friends were both grad students living in San Diego, poking around 7-11s and liquor stores for study snacks on the weekends, only to be dismayed upon reading the ingredient list of one of their favorite snacks, jerky: "mechanically separated chicken" came first, followed by nitrates, sodium, fat and tons of sugar. Fuel unfit for gentlemen. They had stumbled upon a need in the market, and so they jumped into action.

The duo used all fresh ingredients, low sodium soy sauce and prime USDA cuts of meat. They worked obsessively to get the flavor profile and texture just right. Once they had everything perfect, CEO Michael ran a successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign to launch True Jerky in earnest. They brought friends Kevin Hix, Alex Macksound, Brandon Bautista and Brent LaBounty onto the team, and moved on up from their commercial kitchen in San Diego to a USDA-certified facility, where organic, natural ingredients for the marinades are hand-delivered. The jerky is cut "french-fry style" for maximum snackability. (No gentleman or -woman likes chomping on huge slabs of dried meat. Barbaric!)  

The final product was a healthy, lean protein snack in two refined flavors – Original Peppered and Sinsa Korean BBQ. Soon enough, the company gained traction in San Diego and northern California by connecting with customers through farmers' markets. They then set their sights on partnering with local youth organizations to become the "girl scout cookies of the boy scouts," allowing them to sell the jerky at wholesale price and let the groups absorb the profit. Now, the gentlemen hope to expand across the country, shifting the jerky paradigm toward a gentler side. A tip of the hat to that!