What makes our lives so amazing are the chapters we write, the lives we touch or those that touch ours, the lessons we learn and the ones we teach. I like to think that my story and the chapters I have written thus far have made me the man I am today. While not every chapter was easy or without challenges, I have found that those were the chapters that made me strong, resilient and gained me perspective to be a better son, brother, father, friend and partner. I am happy to have the opportunity to share my story with you and hope if nothing else it might inspire you to take a chance in your life just as I am in starting this business. I want nothing more than to create a product that people truly enjoy and bring everyone together.
Looking back, my culinary story began around the age of 7, in 1976. I can remember the days my sister and I were left home alone while my mom worked multiple jobs to keep a roof over our heads as I know many single moms like her had/have to do (thank you Mom). In those days, my sister and I would scour the cupboards for food to try and see what we could create with what we had available. It was at this early age that I discovered that I truly enjoyed mixing flavors to create something not only edible, but something tasty too! I was pretty darn young, so some of these creations were disastrous but even in those failures I learned. I learned about temperature, spices, various ingredients and began to gain confidence in my abilities.
Before I knew it, I was graduating high school and joined the military. This chapter found me far away from any real means to cook as I was in the field training. I realized quickly I missed cooking. Really, I missed “real” food. In the military we were given prepackaged meals known as “meals ready to eat,” aka MRE’s. These meals, while convenient, are not something to write home about. They were bland, boring, and left me daydreaming about my own concoctions. Anything savory and spicy was what I desired. To get me through, I always had something to snack on in my pockets. Most of the time it was jerky. Overtime these snacks lost their flavor. I tried just about every flavor of jerky out on the market to try and keep things exciting, to no avail. And it was not just the flavor, but the texture became an issue as the jerky was so tough it was hard to chew. There were things I loved about jerky (mostly the protein I was getting into my body), but it was then I started to think about how I could make it better.
As my story continued, I found myself in a very different place, a place I never quite saw myself heading towards. I found myself working for corrections, yes, corrections. Yes, where offenders are. As you can imagine, it had its stressful days and those days were long. I was in that profession for many years and again, I often had that same old tough beef jerky in my pockets to ensure I had a snack if needed to help me get through the day. During this time my life completely changed in the most amazing way; I became a father to two amazing and beautiful children. As they came into the world my views and perspectives changed. I reflected back to the long days my mom worked as I was a young boy and how much she missed during my childhood and I knew I wanted to be there for my kids if at all possible and as much as possible. I wanted to drop them off and pick them up from school, I wanted to be at their sporting events and dance recitals. I wanted to be present for them. For me to become more present I had to change my career, 14-16-hour workdays were no longer an option. So, after over 19 years the chapter of corrections had closed.
Here is where my story catches up to present time. I am in a great chapter of my life. I have found myself working for an organization with a somewhat flexible schedule for the most part. My goal to be more present for my children had been achieved and for that I am grateful. I have extra time with my remarkable kids, and I have time to devote to my culinary passions. Having the time to dedicate to those early thoughts about improving jerky and adding my spin has become a reality. I have made some mistakes and found myself frustrated at times. Yet, I have learned. Choosing the right beef, adding the right flavors, having the best tools to work with have all been pieces I have added and refined along the way. My job has been invaluable to me and my family yet each year there is the threat of a possible government shutdown ill affected me and my family. While these fears never seemed to become a reality in January 2019 it happened. The threat had become a reality and it was stressful for me and my family. As everyone seemed to be looking for answers, I was at home with no pay wondering when this situation would end and be resolved. Frustrated, confused, and deeply concerned I decided to use the time I had been given to do something positive. I decided to work on my jerky recipe. I had the time I needed to refine and establish a standard recipe. Every time I went to visit friends they asked if I brought some of my now famous jerky, well at least it was famous in my circle of friends and I began seriously thinking that I might be able to share this with people on a larger scale. Hours upon hours I worked, and refined, and perfected what I now think is an amazing product. How I wish I had had this jerky through all of the stages of my life; as that young boy at home, as the solider training in the field, while working 14-16-hour shifts, and even now as I stand on the sidelines at my kids sporting events. I have been determined to bring something new to the jerky world that would prove to be the bench mark for other jerky’s out there, and none compares to mine, and that is why it is well deserved of its name, CHAZTOWN JERKY”.