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HomeEntrepreneurChutzpah: The Secret Ingredient for Success: Jewish Jerky Brand

Chutzpah: The Secret Ingredient for Success: Jewish Jerky Brand

Jewish Jerky StartUp StoryJewish Jerky StartUp Story

Chutzpah (xʊtspə), noun, shameless audacity. In the case of Jewish Jerky Brand this is perhaps the principal ingredient in a recipe that reinvents one of the world’s oldest, most popular staple foods, Beef Jerky.

According to vocabulary.com, “Chutzpah is a Yiddish word. If you have chutzpah, you say what you think without worrying about hurting someone’s feelings, looking silly, or getting in[to] trouble.”

Jewish Jerky Brand’s founder and owner, Adam Kaufman, boldly delivers a uniquely formulated, boldly flavored version of jerky without worrying about insulting anyone’s taste buds. If anything, his success to date demonstrates that his selection of jerky products may be causing good trouble. Real good!

Adam explains that “we’ve set out to create a new take on an age-old practice, drawing on the spices, seasonings, and cuisines found in the places where Jews have settled throughout the world.”

There is research that indicates jerky was a staple in regions of ancient Africa and may also have been prevalent in ancient Rome and Egypt, popular for its flavor and nutrition as a food as well as for its preservative, anti-spoilage properties.

However, with regard to jerky’s introduction to the Americas, the consensus among researchers traces its origin to indigenous tribes in the mid-1500s in both South and North America. Although an ancient version compared to today’s varieties, usually made from bison or buffalo, it is still considered the precursor to the contemporary jerky we currently enjoy.

As a Los Angeles transplant from New York City who’d decided to return to the East Coast to rejoin his children, Adam Kaufman decided to take the scenic route by car. Traveling through the southwest and across Texas, Adam was amazed at how culturally prevalent jerky was in those regions based on the omnipresent advertising he encountered along the way.

It was during this extended drive that Kaufman began to playfully consider the idea of developing a version of jerky with a New York Jewish twist, incorporating traditional flavorings and spices defined in terms that conjure the celebrated New York Jewish deli culture that grew out of the diaspora. How about pastrami jerky?

While on this trip, Adam began thinking about how he might brand a Jewish beef jerky product. Half tongue-in-cheek, Kaufman experimented with the concept, “Big Jew Jerk from New York City Making Jew Jerky,” playfully weaving together self-effacing humor with cultural pride and tradition.

Jewish Jerky Selling At Market 1Jewish Jerky Selling At Market 1

Resettling in Baltimore, Adam Kaufman began his experimentation in earnest to create Jewish Jerky Brand, an abbreviation of his original brand concept thought up while traveling. Although Adam recognized he would need to employ patient trial and error to arrive at the ideal product, he knew starting with premium ingredients was the key.

“We only use natural ingredients, grass-fed beef, and low amounts of sodium and sugar. We don’t use artificial preservatives, MSG, soy, or gluten. It’s well-made and well-spiced jerky. Period,” Kaufman affirms. As a marketing and advertising professional prior to becoming a jerky entrepreneur, Adam grasps the power of a brand whose claims are based on quality and legitimacy.

Philosophically, Adam Kaufman might bring to mind world-traveling chef and food connoisseur, the late Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain, who was Jewish, recognized food as the great cultural equalizer, and breaking bread as an opening for diplomacy and dialogue among diverse and disparate peoples.

Likewise, Adam sees Jewish Jerky Brand as a culinary segue to explore and understand Judaism, to see the similarities in our differences, embrace aspects of our commonality, share points of view, and open and expand dialogue through food, the common denominator of our humanity.

Having this outlook about the power of food as a shared cultural focal point anchored Adam Kaufman when he briefly had a concern about the Jewish Jerky Brand possibly becoming a “lightning rod” after the October 8th attack by Hamas on Israel.

However, his deep belief in his cultural mission, facilitated by his commercial endeavor, reaffirmed his confidence that his brand could be a symbol of healing, not more hurt. After all, like Bourdain’s belief that food is an equalizer, jerky, which has been made in innumerable variations due to regional cultural influences, is a huge favorite among Americans across the ethnic divide.

An April 2022 report released by Statista reveals that jerky is regularly consumed by “40% of the U.S. population. Beef jerky is one of the fastest growing segments of the food industry, largely because people have less time but also want foods that are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and protein.”

This finding translates to 128.7 million Americans for whom jerky is a common food favorite, giving Jewish Jerky Brand a platform to share and invite diversity and inclusion. Astronauts, military, campers, hikers, athletes, elders, and youngsters find delight in a snack described by some as a superfood to the tune of $937 million in U.S. sales in 2023, based on a report by global research company ibisworld.com.

Adam Kaufman Jewish JerkyAdam Kaufman Jewish Jerky

Kaufman has plans to expand his current jerky selection of four beef flavors and a veggie version, while also diversifying the cultural flavor of his product by entering a collaboration with a Nigerian Jewish chef to develop an African variation of jerky called Kilishi.

Kilishi is a variation of jerky that originated in the western regions of Southern Niger and Northern Nigeria. It is formed from sundried meat, usually beef, Lamb, mutton (sheep), or chevon (goat). It’s similar to a dried Suya (grilled beef skewers) and is carved from meat marinated with salt, pepper, and spices, then smoked and dried.

The sun-dried curing method preserves Kilishi for extended shelf life. It’s a Nigerian delicacy usually consumed with pap (moist bread) called akamu, and cassava flakes which are locally referred to as garri.

Always looking for a cultural by-product of his commercial enterprise as a reinvestment, Adam Kaufman shares that “this is Jewish Jerky Brand’s North Star, which includes donating a portion of our proceeds to the fight against hunger in the US and abroad,” proving he is really a nice guy. So obviously, his original idea for his business name, Big Jew Jerk from New York City Making Jew Jerky, was only kidding.

Your Turn

Jewish Jerky Brand’s origin story shows that inspiration can strike at any moment. If you have a business idea that you’re passionate about, don’t wait for the perfect moment to take action.

When Adam first conceived the idea for the Jewish Jerky Brand during his cross-country road trip, he could have easily dismissed it as a passing thought and continued on his way. Instead, he chose to embrace his spark of inspiration and take the first steps toward turning his vision into reality, even though he didn’t have all the answers or a flawless plan.

So, if you’ve been sitting on a business idea, take a page from Adam Kaufman’s playbook and start taking action today. Start small if you need to, but start nonetheless. Whether it’s conducting market research, reaching out to potential mentors, or developing a prototype, every step you take brings you closer to turning your passion into a thriving business.

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