Glen Whyte embarked on a sales tour to the USA in September, presenting Mountain River Cervena Venison to a variety of chefs and restaurants around the country.
The first day of the tour saw Glen in Brooklyn, New York, with sales rep Stephanie Schneider from importer/distributor D’Artagnan. He presented our venison to 6 chefs that one afternoon! Stephanie reported the chefs were very enthusiastic about hearing the Mountain River story - and Glen did a great job of telling it.
Her take on the meetings, Glen’s presentation and chefs reactions follows….
In each meeting, Glen showed the expanse of the land in New Zealand, the grasses and feed that they grow, the way that the deer are fed, and the way the deer are contained and shifted around the land with the fences.
He also talked about the breeding of the deer at his father’s farm and the time frame and age at which they come down to his land for the grow out period (they are born around Dec 1st and come down at beginning of March). They come down at about 125 lbs and then grow to about 225-300 lbs. Furthermore, he talked about the happiness of the deer, that they ‘play’ and how they come right up to the farmers and come when they are called out to.
Deer from Glens farm are transported on truck and to the processing plant in a very short, stress free time and the deer then have a day to relax before the processing at Mountain River.
The consistency of sizing and weighing of cuts at Mountain River was also discussed in depth. Glen showed a lot of pictures of the processing plant of some specific cuts being butchered, weighed and then some of the packaging.
Glen mentioned to chefs that calling the product Cervena and explaining what it means on the menu is a great way to distinguish the product from wild venison and that it’s a great dialogue for the server to have with the guests (i.e. a great selling point!). He also talked about the fact that Cervena venison can be put on the menu all year, trying to diffuse the traditional view that venison is only a winter item.
When it came to the tasting (Glen brought a rack cutlet) all the chefs loved it. They were impressed with the flavour and the tenderness of the meat. They were encouraged to try searing or grilling it with just a little salt and pepper - although a couple of chefs added some extra seasoning. The cut was perfect for representing the quality of the meat and it cooked pretty quickly. During the tasting, Glen also talked about which cuts would be interesting for their menu. We’re pleased to report that all of the chefs said yes - they want to bring it in for their menus!
At Five Leaves, the Australian owners said yes, absolutely it would be something for their dinner menu. They had doubts, whether their clientele would be venison eaters as they sell many burgers and avocado toast, but they immediately wanted to try it out and put together a special of grilled venison after the visit. Take a look for yourself:
Feedback from the other chefs/restaurants that day:
Sunday in Brooklyn – The Chefs loved the meat. Derek wanted to know who else was selling in the neighbourhood, because he wants to be different. He would choose the Tri-Tip, Denver Leg, or Saddle. He really was interested in Venison Offal – Hearts specifically.
P and C - He has used the Osso Buco in past restaurants. He really appreciated the tenderness of the meat. He thought the tri-tip, rack or the loin could be great for a small plate or a tasting menu.
River Café – Chef Brad was interested in the breeding aspect of the deer, so Glen talked about that. At his Dad’s farm the deer roam into the hills and they introduce a stag to the mix. When the female deer are ready, they come back on their own. He is interested in the saddle for his fall menu which hopefully will be launched by end of the month.
The Bathhouse (not open yet). They had taken some stew meat already to recipe test. Their menu will tout the sustainability of products and they want to have items people who are health conscious will want to eat. They are trying to figure out which cut will work (we tried to push the saddle as there are several applications).
The Hoxton – This was a last minute add-on, so we didn’t get to do a tasting. Chef Raoul is familiar with our product but this is a new kitchen for him. He is into striploin and tenderloin. We also suggested Denver leg. Glen and chef Raoul talked a little about his wood fired grill and what items he cooks there and how that works.
Stephanie says that she also learned a lot on the Brooklyn visit. She mentioned appreciating Glen’s dedication and passion for the animals and his farm, and his professionalism in wanting to provide the best product!
We look forward to continuing the relationships with these 6 chefs and seeing how they use our venison on their menus.