A cut above the rest
FROM a side room in her Tieri home, Catherine Windsor goes through 150kg of meat a week to make 75kg of jerky, which has become so popular it recently won this year's trophy in the Mild Chilli Jerky division of the Australian and New Zealand Mr Chilli awards.
Mrs Windsor, who makes the artisan beef jerky with her husband, Tony, said she began The Jerky Lady business in 2015 and had been "determined” to win the competition after coming second last year.
"We've got a separate room at the side of our house that has been set up as our manufacturing space,” she said.
"This year I tweaked things just slightly and my sales increased and I thought 'I might have a chance here'.”
She said she posted the jerky to Sydney for judging at the end of February and faced tough competition against some "huge companies”.
"We're just a small company and this gives other people the confidence to give it a go,” she said.
"It's just lovely to see small companies having a crack and getting the recognition. I think it's great.”
Mrs Windsor said beef jerky had been increasing in popularity as it had become known for its high protein content.
"So a lot of athletes use it as well,” she said.
"Marathon runners eat it for its nutrients and protein - it's a healthy choice.”
She said five flavours of The Jerky Lady products - Original, Chilli, Barbecue, Hickory and Taste of Asia - were sold at 45 outlets in NSW and Queensland, including Emerald, Moranbah, Blackwater, Central Highlands, Yeppoon, Mackay and Rockhampton, as well as being available online throughout Australia.
"My favourite is the Taste of Asia, which we introduced over the last 12 months,” Mrs Windsor said.
"It has ginger, black pepper and sesame seeds and people who've tried it have said they've never tasted anything like it.”
Her chief taste-testers ahead of competition time are husband Tony, 21-year- old son Michael and seven- year-old granddaughter Isla, who "loves the hickory one”.
Mrs Windsor said she used to make jerky for her family and friends until a friend who managed the local bowls club suggested she provide some for sale from the bar - "and it went really well.”
She said she believed The Jerky Lady won the competition because she kept the jerky fresh and used quality ingredients.
"We don't skimp on anything,” she said.
"It's a boutique business. We're not mass-produced so it stands out a bit.”
She said the jerky was not over-dried and was not "like cardboard or 'road kill', as a few people call jerky, so we try not to portray that”.
"Every piece that we make is of a high standard,” she said.
Her goal now is to keep making jerky and enter the contest again next year.
"It's a lot of work but we do get the rewards when people comment that this is the best jerky they've ever had,” she said.