Edible South Florida Fall 2012 : Page 16

edible artisan " Step aside, Slim Jim! By Gretchen Schmidt | Photos by Robert Parente ;F&#17;K?<&#17;A<IBP K he age-old technique of drying out meat to preserve it is back in the spotlight as people search for healthy, low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein snacks. Novae Gourmet adds a flavorful new spin on jerky. Say hello to the fresh new face of meat snacks: Helen Cole, 29, of Novae Gourmet. If you’re expecting salt-and preservative-packed meat sticks, think again. “This is not your conventional jerky,” she says, offering samples to prospective customers in her quest to spread the word about the value of meat snacks made with all-natural ingredients. An Army brat born in Seoul, South Korea, to an American father and Korean mother, Cole moved to southeast Georgia when she was 10. She studied at Georgia Tech to become an industrial engineer, working her way through school and learning valuable lessons from her industrious mother, who was a powerful role model. “She has a tenacious work ethic,” Cole says. “She taught me how to treat people.” Cole’s mother also influenced her palate, cooking Korean dishes at home like kim chi (fermented vegetables that can be seasoned with brine, ginger, scallions, garlic and chili peppers) and dak tori tang (spicy chicken stew with root vegetables). Engineering degree in hand, Cole went to work for a firm in Atlanta, designing and building automated warehouse systems. She and husband Ry then moved to Miami, where she worked in the quality assurance department at Burger King, a valuable experience. “I learned food science and, most importantly, learned about the American food system,” she says. “In the past few decades, we’ve gone from a small farm food system to one driven by big corporations, with three or four big companies processing commercial beef.” Cole describes the experience as highly educational, introducing her to specialized food scientists who shaped how she thinks about food. “We were feeding a lot of people highly processed foods that were low in nutrients,” she says. “It spurred me to find out more.” It also encouraged her to follow her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. 8&#17;?F99P&#17;>IFNJ Many new businesses spring out of hobbies, and that was how Cole’s began. Although jerky is not part of Korean culinary culture, she started making batches, getting inspiration from those familiar flavors and ingredients like Korean soy sauce in her experiments. Cole chose quality ingredients, hand-slicing Black Angus bottom round beef from Creekstone Farms and seasoned it with ground, toasted spices made in small batches. She developed marinades using teriyaki flavors, coriander and preservative-free soy sauce. Ry, who used to make jerky from wild venison, taught her how to brine and dry the meat. She tested ways to improve her product and make it taste better and chew better. “We made jerky to give away to anyone willing to take it,” she says. “Each batch was an improvement over the next.” Soon, Cole made the decision to turn her hobby into a business. “I was convinced by family and friends that this was a unique product,” she says. She added chicken to her repertoire, using thin slices of Florida-sourced chicken breast. Marinades included Honey’s Coriyaki, made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, organic honey and sesame; and Penang chile chicken, with red chile, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, kaffir lime and galangal. Cole chose the name “Novae Gourmet” – novae is Latin for “new” – and came up with a fresh label and packaging for her tasty meat bits. She found a licensed commercial kitchen to prepare her product – making jerky does not fall under Florida’s cottage food laws – and started selling her wares at farmers markets. “A lot of people don’t know jerky. I get to educate them,” she says. JGI<8;@E>&#17;K?<&#17;NFI; Cole’s enthusiasm pays off. Always affable, she warmly welcomes new customers and greets repeat customers, offering samples and engaging in friendly conversation. Converts know the value of jerky as a high-protein snack they can keep in the car or in their backpack for a quick snack after the gym or during a bike ride. Cole says she’s learned new uses from customers who crumble jerky over salad and soup, using it like healthy bacon bits. “For people who have never tried jerky, chicken is their gateway,” she says. Prices are comparable to other jerky on the market – a four-ounce packet sells for $12. While she is working on developing other products like dehydrated fruits and vegetables, right now Cole’s market booth is stocked with baskets of jerky. She is a passionate advocate who’s quick to point out the handcrafted nature of her work and the freshness of her jerky. “Everything is less than a week old, and sometimes less than a day old,” she tells customers. “This is my company, I make all this with my own two hands.” &#1e; 18 | fall 2012 | edible SouthFlorida.com

Edible Artisan

By Gretchen Schmidt | Photos by Robert Parente

Step aside, Slim Jim!

DO THE JERKY

The age-old technique of drying out meat to preserve it is back in the spotlight as people search for healthy, low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein snacks. Novae Gourmet adds a flavorful new spin on jerky.

Say hello to the fresh new face of meat snacks: Helen Cole, 29, of Novae Gourmet. If you're expecting salt- and preservative-packed meat sticks, think again. "This is not your conventional jerky," she says, offering samples to prospective customers in her quest to spread the word about the value of meat snacks made with all-natural ingredients.

An Army brat born in Seoul, South Korea, to an American father and Korean mother, Cole moved to southeast Georgia when she was 10. She studied at Georgia Tech to become an industrial engineer, working her way through school and learning valuable lessons from her industrious mother, who was a powerful role model. "She has a tenacious work ethic," Cole says. "She taught me how to treat people." Cole's mother also influenced her palate, cooking Korean dishes at home like kim chi (fermented vegetables that can be seasoned with brine, ginger, scallions, garlic and chili peppers) and dak tori tang (spicy chicken stew with root vegetables).

Engineering degree in hand, Cole went to work for a firm in Atlanta, designing and building automated warehouse systems. She and husband Ry then moved to Miami, where she worked in the quality assurance department at Burger King, a valuable experience. "I learned food science and, most importantly, learned about the American food system," she says. "In the past few decades, we've gone from a small farm food system to one driven by big corporations, with three or four big companies processing commercial beef." Cole describes the experience as highly educational, introducing her to specialized food scientists who shaped how she thinks about food. "We were feeding a lot of people highly processed foods that were low in nutrients," she says. "It spurred me to find out more." It also encouraged her to follow her dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

A HOBBY GROWS

Many new businesses spring out of hobbies, and that was how Cole's began. Although jerky is not part of Korean culinary culture, she started making batches, getting inspiration from those familiar flavors and ingredients like Korean soy sauce in her experiments. Cole chose quality ingredients, hand-slicing Black Angus bottom round beef from Creekstone Farms and seasoned it with ground, toasted spices made in small batches. She developed marinades using teriyaki flavors, coriander and preservative-free soy sauce. Ry, who used to make jerky from wild venison, taught her how to brine and dry the meat. She tested ways to improve her product and make it taste better and chew better. "We made jerky to give away to anyone willing to take it," she says. "Each batch was an improvement over the next." Soon, Cole made the decision to turn her hobby into a business. "I was convinced by family and friends that this was a unique product," she says. She added chicken to her repertoire, using thin slices of Florida-sourced chicken breast. Marinades included Honey's Coriyaki, made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, organic honey and sesame; and Penang chile chicken, with red chile, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, kaffir lime and galangal. Cole chose the name "Novae Gourmet" – novae is Latin for "new" – and came up with a fresh label and packaging for her tasty meat bits. She found a licensed commercial kitchen to prepare her product – making jerky does not fall under Florida's cottage food laws – and started selling her wares at farmers markets. "A lot of people don't know jerky. I get to educate them," she says.

SPREADING THE WORD
Cole's enthusiasm pays off. Always affable, she warmly welcomes new customers and greets repeat customers, offering samples and engaging in friendly conversation. Converts know the value of jerky as a high-protein snack they can keep in the car or in their backpack for a quick snack after the gym or during a bike ride. Cole says she's learned new uses from customers who crumble jerky over salad and soup, using it like healthy bacon bits. "For people who have never tried jerky, chicken is their gateway," she says. Prices are comparable to other jerky on the market – a four-ounce packet sells for $12.

While she is working on developing other products like dehydrated fruits and vegetables, right now Cole's market booth is stocked with baskets of jerky. She is a passionate advocate who's quick to point out the handcrafted nature of her work and the freshness of her jerky. "Everything is less than a week old, and sometimes less than a day old," she tells customers. "This is my company, I make all this with my own two hands."

Working Jerky
Helen Cole shows how a batch of Honey's Coriyaki is made. First, she hand slices bottom round beef. 1 The thickness of the slices is only one of the factors that determine the final texture and chewiness of the jerky. Other influences including slicing against or with the grain, the type of marinade used and the ingredients inside. Here, 2 the meat takes a bath in the marinade for 24 to 26 hours. For the marinades, Cole grinds spices using a mortar and pestle. Honey's Coriyaki contains soy sauce, rice vinegar, organic honey and sesame. The marinated meat is arranged on drying racks 3 for the dehydrator. Depending on the meat and its thickness, the drying takes six to 12 hours and results in fully cooked meat. The jerky is pulled off the rack, cooled and packed into sealed bags to protect from moisture. Once it's dehydrated 4, about 100 pounds of fresh meat turns into 30 to 40 pounds of jerky.

About Jerky
The practice of drying meat goes back centuries as people sought ways to store meat for long periods of time and carry it with them on long journeys. Native Americans made jerky from buffalo and used it in a food called pemmican. Dried meat in other cultures includes carne seca from northern Mexico; biltong, a thicker cut of meat that includes vinegar in the marinade, from South Africa; and bakkwa from China, made in flat sheets. Some cultures rehydrate dried meat in their dishes; carne seca, for example, is sometimes served in a stew.

Novae Gourmet
novaegourmet.us
Twitter: @novaegourmet
Find Novae Gourmetjerky at the Upper Eastside Farmers Market, North Miami Farmers Market and Pinecrest Gardens Farmers Market; the monthly Artisan Food Fest at the Coral Gables Museum (coralgablesmuseum.org); and the Williams-Sonoma Artisans' Market (various locations; check online at williams-sonoma.com).

Read the full article at http://onlinedigeditions.com/article/Edible+Artisan/1202952/129472/article.html.

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