While the nation focuses on Game Day food, Nicky Farms invited local chefs, writers and foodies to tour their kitchen where sustainably raised and wild game is turned into great food. As the local Portland purveyor prepares to go more deeply into retail, they invited their guests to try and rate five different jerky batches.
The blind tasting was indeed potluck, as the guests of Up in Smoke didn't even know whether they were tasting beef, bison, boar, elk, venison, rabbit, goat, ostrich, emu or any of the other wide range of species Nicky USA prepares. Nicky Farms branded meat and sausage will be found more widely in markets in 2014, including New Seasons. They will be redesigning the Nicky Farms packaging and education as a big part of their business. They want to share knowledge about how to prepare and enjoy game products.
Geoff Latham, owner and CEO then took us on a tour of his inner Southeast Nicky USA plant. He pointed out the 200-square foot space where Nicky USA started once it left his garage in 1990. As an OSU agricultural business graduate, he began exporting products to Korea but then decided to build a business around supplying rabbit to local chefs. That expanded to sourcing wild and sustainably raised game from family-owned farms and ranches across the Northwest.
Nicky Farms added their own acreage to the mix with a certified-organic farm in Aurora, Oregon. Latham plans for the 113-year old farmstead to be a "Little House on the Flood Plain" where chefs and their staffs can come for team-building retreats.
Latham expanded his USDA-inspected meat processing plant to 14,000 square feet and notched his first million-dollar month in December. They claim to process more species than almost any other plant. They vacuum-pack all of the meat, which allows it to be frozen for up to a year. This enables chefs to reliably offer game choices on their menus.
Nicky Farms has designed a 28-foot mobile slaughter trailer so that everything raised on the farm can be put down on the farm, with less stress to the animals.
Next time you are dining at a Portland-area restaurant, you can thank Geoff Latham and Nicky Farms for being able to enjoy delicious rabbit, bison, venison and more.