You don’t have to look beyond most inner-city drinking holes to know that jerky is experiencing a renaissance in Sydney. With a slew of new jerky companies popping up, The Darling Jerky Co. has established itself as a front-runner when those dried-meat cravings come a knockin’.

Darling Jerky owner Darrell Beveridge is passionate about crafting some of the finest-tasting jerky in Australia. “We tried a variety of different cuts, drying techniques, marinating times; what we have after two years is a product that’s actually a lot more like biltong,” says Beveridge. “Super thick, super juicy stuff; it really is quite unlike anything else on the market, and we’re stoked about the reception we've been getting.”

The process behind making Darling Jerky is meticulous, and Beveridge was quick to point out the key differences between mass-produced jerky and his product. “The stuff you get from the big brands, the classic service-station stuff, is just not what jerky should be. It’s often made into a paste and pumped with sodium nitrates,” says Beveridge. In place of preservatives and quick substitutes, Darling Jerky uses fresh ingredients, such as kosher salt, lemon juice and proper cuts of lean, grass-fed beef. “The leaner the meat, the better the jerky,” says Beveridge. “You want chilled-out, free-range, relaxed, lazy cows; this equals tender beef. I source my beef exclusively from Bindaree Beef (stocked at The Australian Meat Emporium). We have an excellent relationship and they ensure I get the best stuff around.”

While settling on the two mainstay flavours of original and the fan favourite, pickleburger, Darling Jerky Co. is constantly experimenting with ingredients to come up with new flavours. “I did a Raspberry Chipotle and a “Big Whiskey” flavour for a night at the Dove & Olive pub,” says Beveridge. “I’ve never seen so much jerky disappear so quickly.”

Darling Jerky Co. is representative of the new wave of small food businesses providing a quality alternative to the big brands. “With snacks these days, much like beer, people want something premium. You have to have something on offer beyond a simple bowl of chips. It makes me super happy to hear people say things like: ‘I would never have even touched jerky before – now I’m in love!’”

Darling Jerky is available online and is stocked at The Little Guy, The Old Fitzroy, Dove & Olive, The Clock Hotel, The Cricketers’ Arms, East Sydney Hotel, The Lord Wolseley, The Keg & Brew and other food stores.