It’s not your dad’s beef jerky
After making jerky for friends and family for 30 years, Dave Porton hopes to take advantage of the surge in popularity of the meaty snack. He and his wife, Maria, recently opened Camouflage Dave’s Beef Jerky and More, where they sell their own homemade brand along with other selections.
Jerky, the ancient method of preserving meat, has come into its own. An internet search turns up several articles on how it’s the latest thing. Once only found in glass jars at gas stations, it’s now on the top shelf of food stores in a variety of flavors, as well as gourmet shops like Camouflage Dave’s.
“It’s the hottest new thing,” Maria Porton said.
Now, 52, Dave Porton started eating jerky when he was 14 years old. He said the brand he always bought went out of business, so he researched how it was made. He later learned to make marinades, so his jerky bursts with juice and flavor.
After he started to ride motorcycles, he found it was the perfect snack to take on a trip. His riding partners also liked it, and that got him thinking about selling it one day.
His homemade jerky is called the Signature line, which includes black pepper, teriyaki, barbeque and sweet heat. They also have some of their recipes produced by another company, offering habanera, jalapeno, whiskey, IPA beer, sweet and spicy, and more.
To make jerky, they first buy top-quality sirloin. Then the process of cutting, marinating for 48 hours and drying takes a week.
“It’s a labor of love,” said his wife, who handles the sales and marketing for the store.
They also sell other brands, but all meat is from the USA. A wide range of sauces and dog treats are also available.
The available meats and flavors can be overwhelming, and Maria Porton said that’s where customer service plays an important role.
“I can explain the varieties and tell you what they taste like,” she said. “Sometimes I have samples.”
One reason for the popularity of jerky is that it’s all meat. She said she ate it for the protein when she was a body builder.
Another intriguing thing about jerky is that “exotic” meats are available. She said kangaroo is currently the most popular and python is also a top choice. Other exotic meats include buffalo, venison and elk, and they are all farm-raised.
The Portons know they will have big crowds at their location during the motorcycle events, and hope to build up a local customer base for the rest of the year.
“The Rossmeyers have been wonderful,” she said. “They helped us get off the ground.”
The Portons knew each other 30 years ago in Columbia, Maryland, before they went their separate ways. They got together, with the help of Facebook, a year ago and were married within months. They then relocated to Ormond Beach where his mother retired in the late 1990s, and opened the store.
Dave Porton was an adjuster for Allstate for 18 years and now works at a local body shop, while also cooking jerky. Maria Porton minds the store during the day.
Camouflage Dave is a nickname, because he has always worn a lot of camouflage clothes.
Camouflage Dave’s Beef Jerky & More,, open at 11 a.m. daily, is located next to Saint’s & Sinners Pub at 1637 N. U.S. 1. Call 256-3660.