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Greenport Jerky

Greenport Jerky

We have the best damn jerky around, people need to know that," says Vinny Macchirole.  
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Marina owners for 28 years, Vinny (a licensed sea captain) and his wife Carolyn, mostly kept their high protein snack to themselves until 2016. "We'd take brisket from the grocery store and make big batches of it at home because it travels well and its tasty," says Vinny. "It had no additives or chemicals like some of the store bought Jerky so it was a great snack for the kids to take to their track meets, or to bring on the boat." 
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Born and bred on the North Fork - Carolyn was born in Greenport Hospital and Vinny graduated from Greenport High School - the couple has witnessed the village's transformation from small town to busy tourist stop. "We always wanted to do something in the Village and have our own store because we thought if we could just sell something for $1 to every person who walked through there..." But raising two kids and operating a Marina in Riverhead for 28 years didn't afford them that luxury. After they sold the business and their youngest daughter went away to college, Vinny and Carolyn took a month long cross country road trip and found their inspiration. "Everywhere we went we noticed there was Beef Jerky and we thought to ourselves, why aren't we making ours commercially?" says Vinny. "So that's how we started - on a cocktail napkin drawing out a little business plan." 
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Next, Vinny and Caroline took their Jerky on the road - setting up shop around the East End Farmer's Markets as part of their own Greenport Jerky Road Show. "At first my wife was kind of offended when people would say 'oh, I never eat that stuff,' says Vinny. "She'd respond back with an answer like "Have you never tried steak!?" Because this is really just dehydrated steak, and in theory if we put that dehydrated steak back in water it becomes steak again, right?" But I found it to be a fun challenge because I know if you give me 2 minutes I can get you to love our meat, because this is not a Slim Jim type of product. If I can get them to try a piece, next thing you know they're buying a bag."
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"In this business you have to get out and meet the people. Going to a Farmer's Market is an advertising expense. I can give the phone book $500 to advertise, but I don't get anything back from it that I know of. I give $500 to a Farmer's market, and even if I break even at the end I've met people, they've sampled, they've tried it, they remember the brand. There's no substitute for a 1-on-1 experience, especially when you need to prove to them why your product is superior."
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So how is their product superior? "We take a brisket, which is all muscle meat and we'll trim all the fat and handslice each piece. So its not made from a machine; it's not pressed from pieces and parts and round up into a perfectly formed stick or flat piece. After it's hand sliced, we marinate it for 24 hours and then dehydrate it for 6-8. So we have approximately (depending on the flavor) half the sodium as some of the store bought Jerky. We don't use any MSG and no nitrates."
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Currently Greenport Jerky is in 30 stores east of Riverhead, in four hotels on the North Fork and four East End Farmer's Markets. In addition to their 11 core flavors, they recently partnered with Greenport Fire on a Hot Sauce Jerky and are hoping to partner with one of the local distilleries for a Whiskey beef jerky. There's also a Tequila Lime flavor in the works (aka "Beef-a-Rita) and a North Fork BBQ.
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But while Vinny still works as a licensed sea captain, don't expect many freebies if you're sailing out with him. "Conveniently I "forget it" a lot of the time," laughs Vinny. "Brisket isn't cheap and there's only so much I can give away before I'm not making any money."