A Message from Chef Pierre, Our Alchemist
A few years back, my brother, Phil, started tinkering around with a food dehydrator (make no mistake: he is the father of the bastard child that is Brothers Artisanal). Phil began sending me traditional beef jerky by mail, and, being something of a perfectionist, he was always eager to hear my feedback.
It’s good, I’d tell him. How good, he’d say. Good, I’d say. But, I’d say, try it this way.
So a few weeks later I get a package in the mail. Lo and behold, a food dehydrator, from Phil. Okay, I think. I’ll try my hand at this. But I’m not going to do it how he wants me to. (I am something of a nonconformist, and very much a jerk.)
And so anyway I start making jerky. Because I’m starting from scratch, and because I’m not (or was not) what I would describe as a huge jerky guy, my idea is to just play it by ear, see if I can turn this whole jerky thing on its ancient, withered head.
Accordingly, I don’t research anything—I don’t learn that fat is the enemy of jerky, and hence certain cuts of meat are carne-non-gratis; I don’t learn that marinades are typically salt-based, universally not-pasty, and require a strong acidic ingredient to catapult the meat’s tenderization. What follows is a few batches that can best be described as bunk. I will not tell you about my pork belly failure, nor my attempt to employ Vietnamese fish sauce as the primary ingredient for a marinade.
But a fire had been kindled in me. I continued to tinker with my recipes, and rather than accept that these less-favored flavor profiles in jerky were underemployed for good reason, I doubled down on creating something wild and new. Between discarded batches, I saw success with Korean BBQ.
I turned Thai Tom Kha Gai soup into something chewy and alive with umami. I pulverized pistachios and lemon peel to create a lamb shawarma that was somewhere between jerky and the meat you see carved off those giant cones at state fairs.
I habitually and purposefully undercook. Periodically, I disregard salt. Often I find myself removing marinade from the meat instead of the other way around. And Phil—the visionary brother, the affable one, the roaring motor beneath this organization’s hood—has been an encouraging force every step of the way. He refines the recipes, he transmutes my experiments into real product, he beats down doors that I would have thought infrangible.
This is Brothers Artisanal. We will never cease to tinker. We will never surrender flavor. We may or may not endure, but know this: we will surely leave a mark.