Big things can happen when four like-minded friends unite to bring an idea to life. Brothers Rory and Luke grew up on the South African coast and have called Australia home for the past 10 years. After falling in love with the Australian bushland they would often set out on adventures with their best mates Tom and Matt.
With a shared passion for health, movement and the outdoors, the group of four needed a healthy and convenient source of protein to fuel their adventures. They searched high and low for high protein food that wasn’t artificial or packed with preservatives and sugar. Unfortunately they were unsuccessful in their quest so the brothers drew on their South African culture and started making biltong with their mates.
Their biltong was a hit with everyone who tried it and before long, Barbell Biltong was born. The boys aspire to make the world’s healthiest biltong for athletes, adventurers and health enthusiasts who are mindful of what they consume. Their biltong is made using Australian Organic Meats (AOM) as AOM has a strong emphasis on animal welfare and all their cattle graze on pastures, free from synthetic chemicals, herbicides and pesticides.
They make their biltong from a Canberra-based commercial kitchen and you can find them at The Old Bus Depot Markets, the Capital Region Farmers Market on weekends. If you’re from out of town or can’t make it to the markets then you can purchase it online. Barbell Biltong is available in two flavours – Benchmark (the original) and The Burn, the names says it all.
We’ve tried both flavours and think they’re equally delicious. It’s a flavoursome snack that goes perfectly with a cold beer or you can get creative and add it to lots of recipes.
We recently caught up with the boys to find more about how Barbell Biltong came to life and soon discovered they have a wicked sense of humour and are just a little bit cheeky.
- Where did the idea and inspiration to start the business come from?
We were all camping and needed a convenient and healthy food. We were sick of relying on canned fish for this kind of thing. These trips were filled with loads of activity so we really needed a dense food like biltong to keep us going.
- When did you start the business?
Officially 12 months ago, at the start of 2016. Before then, Rory and Luke were trading biltong on the black meat market to family and friends to validate the idea. It turned out that people were in fact willing to sacrifice their hard earned dollars for biltong.
- Why biltong?
Biltong is simply very convenient and healthy. It’s a great nutritional tool and it’s pretty damn delicious too! We eat paleo and we eat low carb; Barbell Biltong fits into those diets and makes them easier.
- How did you come up with the name?
The name came to Rory in a dream. We were doing a lot of barbell training at the time and we thought that the biltong would appeal to other gym-goers who were looking for ready to eat, high protein foods.
- How many trials and kilos of biltong did you go through before you perfected the recipe?
At Barbell Biltong’s Genesis we made over 25 unique biltong flavour variations. We hired scientists to run all recipes through a double blind taste test. Crowd favourites were slightly altered and the tests run again. This was repeated until a golden recipe was discovered. This recipe is now our most valuable asset. I’d sell my grandma over it.
- How long does the process take?
Our biltong steaks dry for 10 days. We’ve discovered that the very best biltong must dry for a very long time, so we’ve rearranged our lives to incorporate a 10-day work week.
- There are lots of things you can do with biltong, what are you favourite ways to enjoy it?
If you have the time to get away – it’s the best on a long hike or a camping trip. Our biltong is best enjoyed in the outdoors. The biltong also compliments other foods really nicely. It can fit into just about any salad dish. We’ve been encouraging customers to get creative and we’re still finding new recipes ourselves.
- What are the plans for the future?
We’ll aim to keep having fun running the business as a group. This year we really want to make more biltong and explore all of the opportunities that are out there. We’re looking forward to experimenting with new meats and flavours too.
10. Anything else you want to add?
Yes – there is something we’d like to add. Some very important advice from our months as successful businessmen. Some sage advice for any young entrepreneurs out there who know they want to be in business but don’t quite know where to start, for anyone who is down on their luck and needs a second chance… Buy Biltong.
It’ll make you rich and solve all your problems. It’ll make your dreams come true and fill your wildest fantasies. You’ll be stronger than ever and happier than you can believe, and, if you ever start doubting it you merely haven’t bought enough yet.
Get the recipe for Matts Creamy Cauliflower Low-Carb Soup.
Find out more about Barbell Biltong