I started seeing the buzz about New Jerk City a few weeks ago on Facebook. And then we tried their Queens and Brooklyn flavors from the Brooklyn Indie Market at my birthday party. The savory bits disappeared almost faster than I could snap a photo of them. I wanted to know more about jerky maker Gordon Lingley, who, in my humble opinion, deserves an award just for coming up with such a great name for his handmade, artisanal beef jerky.
Markets of New York: How did you become a jerky maker?
Gordon Lingley: I became a jerky maker primarily out of my own selfish needs. A few years ago I set out looking for some decent jerky in this city and the only thing close were the few jerky makers in Chinatown. But what I found was a far cry from the jerky I was used to as a kid, and a far cry from what I was looking for. It was then and there that I started attempting to make my own versions at home. Ultimately I did come to find a few more jerky makers. Obviously there are many others who felt a jerky void, yet none of these jerky makers produced what I was looking for. The only solution: to make it myself.
MNY: What is the story behind your perfect brand name? How did it occur to you?
GL: My perfect brand name? (Thank you, by the way.) It’s just one of those things that occurred to me in a flash of brilliance. It also lends itself to my brand strategy of having a flavor for each borough. Admittedly, New York City is the only place that brand name really works. But it works perfectly. Whenever I tell people the name, it always elicits a smile.
MNY: Whenever I mention the name, people say, “No way – that’s hilarious! I want a tee-shirt.” What are your plans for new flavors, and will you make other kinds of jerky?
GL: Right now I’m working on perfecting the Queens flavor, which will most likely be a curry flavor, as well as the Brooklyn flavor, which will most likely be a beer-infused flavor. Manhattan is difficult because there’s a little bit of everything, like Queens, but I initially thought I might make it out of a nicer cut of beef, like tenderloin, and marinate it in something fancy, like balsamic vinegar or truffle oil, but that’s still undecided. As for the Bronx, I’ll most likely do something Italian, in honor of the shops on Arthur Ave. The real question mark is Staten Island. I have to take a few field trips out there to get a feel for the flavor of the borough. I’m also taking suggestions.
MNY: What is your favorite thing to drink with jerky?
GL: I’d have to say beer. No specific beer in mind, but I feel like the two compliment each other well.
MNY: Where can we buy New Jerk City products?
GL: Currently the only place New Jerk City has been available is at the Brooklyn Indie Market, but I’ll also be at on Friday and First Friday at The Loom, and Crafts in Chelsea with the NewNew on Saturday. That’s bound to change in the near future. I’ve already been approached by a deli in Bushwick interested in carrying my products, but I need to finalize packaging, pricing, and permits before that happens. I hope to have it available in a number of bars and grocery stores throughout Brooklyn, eventually expanding into the other boroughs. And eventually, online sales.
Meet Gordon and New Jerk City: