James Petrie of Merchant Of Venison has been in the venison game for more than 20 years, selling venison locally in New Zealand. Merchant Of Venison proudly sells right across New Zealand to anyone, from private customers, right through to restaurants, wholesalers, and supermarkets.
The approach the business takes is to deal with each person and client individually and James feels this is a real advantage as he can better understand their needs, and match them with what Mountain River can produce.
James started off supplying supermarkets with the original product being the neck bone which was used for soups and casseroles. The business has built up from there. He works hard to find a product being produced by Mountain River that fits with the right customer. Merchant Of Venison have gone on to the Osso Buco shank, to steaks, and a lot of trim. He notes that customers like to make their own mince, their own sausages, and put their own spin on it.
In the last few months (before lockdown) James was able to get to a lot more restaurants, asking what they would like to try. He provides them with a list of random products they have likely never been able to get and try, such as hearts, tongues, livers, sweet breads, cheeks. Customers cannot believe how many products they have from the whole animal - Merchant Of Venison likes this approach and celebrates the whole animal.
Sharing the Passion for New Zealand Venison
The thing that James enjoys most about the business is meeting people and sharing his passion for the venison product. It is a real privilege to go out on to the farms and visit the farmers and go into a paddock of hundreds of deer. He notes that you would think the deer would run to be away from you. But all you have to do is hold your hand out and they will come up and sniff you. The inquisitive ones will come and sniff your hand. It is wonderful to see that they are so happy and healthy.
James says we are very lucky to have New Zealand venison. It is a unique protein in the world. It really makes him proud to sell it - and it makes him proud when he sees people enjoying it.
He’s so enthusiastic and can’t wait to get the product to the market and share it with people. James says the job that everyone has done is a credit to them and he’s proud to sell the venison that they produce. He wants to share this with chefs so they too can appreciate what has been done and what the Mountain River farmers and team are doing.
Chef Graham Brown's Red Berry Tea Smoked Venison
Restaurants are always interesting, with James and his wife Angela constantly gaining knowledge and ideas along the way. He says a great product to take to a new chef is “Chef Graham Browns Red Berry Tea Smoked Venison” as you just slice thinly and eat, so it’s a great way to break the ice.
Chef Brown says venison is perfectly suited to lighter style dishes and combines perfectly with fruit and cheese. Using the salad ingredients and adding in fruit which is in season such as melon, mango, raspberries and blueberries. Caper berries and roasted baby onions also make tasty additions. This is a great dish to serve as a light lunch or a starter for a dinner party. Check out the recipes section of the website: www.merchantofvenison.co.nz/recipes.
Smokey T's Low and Slow BBQ Restaurant
A really interesting development is with Smokey T’s low and slow BBQ Restaurant. For those of you that were lucky enough to be at the Mountain River Farmers' meeting in June, you would have tried some of Tristin’s cooking there. Venison is not a traditional meat for them to cook, so this was a real eye opener for James as to what is possible.
Both James and his wife Angela work with Smokey T and The Smokin Que Team to bring Venison to a whole new cooking style and market. Smokey T's is in Christchurch and you can find out more at www.smokeytsbbq.com.
The Merchant Of Venison Online Shop
If you want to try Red Berry Tea Cold Smoked Venison and other grass fed and delicious products, visit the Merchant Of Venison online shop at www.merchantofvenison.co.nz/shop.
Don’t forget to use your discount code: VENISON10
You can also see a longer version of James on video, where he shares his passion for all the different venison products now available, he says "We do care about this."