Want to know where the produce we use comes from? In this series of ‘Meet the Producer’ posts, we’ll introduce you to some of our favourite local suppliers… Plus, we’ll be showcasing Fair Game Wild Venison at our upcoming Producer’s Plate dinner on Friday 16th August. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.
Based on the north coast of NSW, Fair Game Wild Venison is a producer that doesn’t really ‘produce’ anything at all. “Fair Game Wild Venison is wild harvested. I don’t produce,” says founder Jonas Widjaja. “I don’t have animals to fence in, I don’t need to manage cleared land to feed and grow animals, I don’t medicate, employ veterinary services or require live transport. Yet, the product is premium, free roaming, nutrient dense and all natural. I’m your perfect producer… except I don’t produce. I bring to customers a wild-harvested product, handled with care. Deer are considered a pest, they are controlled by culling, and without companies like Fair Game the meat would be left on the ground.”
The idea to recover venison was one that had been brewing for Jonas for about 5 years – slowly morphing into a sustainable business that started in March this year. Driven by a love for venison and a hate for meat waste, Jonas started Fair Game as a way of supporting struggling farmers, relieving environmental stress and feeding people healthy, ethically harvested wild venison. “Venison is the passion. Taste, texture, and health benefits,” says Jonas. “Knowing that this incredible resource is killed and not used is just the worst thought to me. The animal should be used, and its life respected.”
Since starting Fair Game, Jonas has surrounded himself with incredible people and developed a cluster of small businesses that share his passion, including hard-working field harvesters, chefs, tanning experts and, of course, his family. “The food industry is exciting and the people are passionate and friendly,” says Jonas. “If you want to do well, believe in your product.”
That belief in his product has already seen Jonas convert a lot of people to enjoy wild venison. He’s keen to dispel the myth that this natural meat is ‘gamey’. “If you’ve experienced gamey venison and not liked it then there is a chance the animal selected was a large, old stag. Please try it again,” says Jonas. “So many have been converted and now claim in as their favourite choice, including my in laws!”
Jonas’ top tip for cooking wild venison…
“The leg muscles, called denver legs (consisting of rump, topside, knuckle and silverside) can be disguised as backstrap and are cheaper. This is because the venison I sell in the restaurant and retail market is incredibly tender due to the animal’s age and the hanging time I ensure before selling. To disguise the Denver’s, hide in the corner of your kitchen and create long fillet shaped cuts about 4-5cm wide by slicing along the grain. Now you can unhide, season with salt and fry on a super hot plate in butter and oil for 2mins all around, then transfer the skillet to an oven at 190°C for just 4-5min. Rest loosely covered with foil for at least 5 min. You can flash heat back in the oven for 30sec if it cooled down too much. Then slice against the grain. It should be medium rare, super juicy and incredibly tender. Share with your friends and don’t tell them it’s not backstrap.”
Fair Game Wild Venison recently featured on the menu of our Byron to Brisbane Trail event for Good Food Month (pictured). Try the venison tataki, smoked blueberries, macadamia miso, wild fennel and spent sourdough on the menu at Three Blue Ducks Byron. CLICK HERE to book at Byron.