'Hardcore carnivore' Jess Pryles passionate about consumer education

'Hardcore carnivore' Jess Pryles passionate about consumer education

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When it comes to meat trends, self-styled hardcore carnivore Jess Pryles knows her stuff.

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Celebrity chef Jess Pryles preparing dinner at the SmartBeef conference in Dalby.

Celebrity chef Jess Pryles preparing dinner at the SmartBeef conference in Dalby.

From growing up in suburban Melbourne to becoming a celebrity chef known for her love of meat in Austin, Texas, Jess Pryles has become known as one of beef's biggest champions.

In addition to having an active social media presence with 103,000 Instagram followers, Ms Pryles, who has been living in the USA for nine years, has written a recipe book and has her own range of meat seasonings.

Speaking to the Queensland Country Life while at the SmartBeef conference in Dalby, Ms Pryles said she would love to see more cuts available to Australian shoppers.

"We have a phenomenal system with Aus-Meat and MSA is one of the most advanced in the world, so from a production point of view we're smashing it... but I really would like to see more cuts available to the consumer," she said.

"I know that it's hard because it's a chicken or the egg situation... if they're not asking for it, it's hard to sell at butchers.

"But I'm also seeing this rise of the boutique butcher... and those are the kinds of butchers where the customer comes in and ask the questions."

Living in Texas for the past nine years, Ms Pryles has become a low and slow barbecue aficionado and has observed firsthand how cuts that are relatively underused in Australia have a bigger role in the food culture.

"I've developed this tremendous love for skirt steaks since I moved to Texas because in Hispanic cooking they use a lot of skirts for fajitas and carne asada," she said.

"Particularly bavette or flap meat is so underrated. It's got incredible flavour, it's pretty thick so you can still get a nice cook on it whereas with skirt steak it's so thin you have to only cook it one way.

"But I really, really enjoy finding my way through different secondary cuts like that.

"I probably eat red meat at least five times a week and it can't be a rib eye every night, so it's nice to find other ways."

Constant learning

As part of her SmartBeef experience, Ms Pryles got a close-up look at how the lotfeeding sector works, visiting Whyalla feedlot near Texas.

She said it was an important part of her own meat education.

"I've always just assumed feedlots would circle the wagons and put a big dark cloak over things and not want to talk about what they did, but it's completely the opposite," she said.

"I was surprised by how willing everyone was to share and educate and clear up any misunderstandings about anything that goes on there.

"Seeing these animals that have as much food as they can want, as much water as they can want, they're herd animals that have their friends around, they've got shade, they're secure, they're not stressed, they're lying down and not making noise... what more could you want?

"Every time I get to have more access to a step of these productions it makes me feel even more confident and even better about promoting eating beef."

Key advice

If there's one thing Ms Pryles could teach meat lovers, it's to invest in a meat thermometer.

"There's a certain temperature... 135F (57C) is medium rare, no matter what happens," she said.

"Whether you're doing a standing rib roast in the oven for the holidays, whether you're smoking a tri-tip, whether you're cooking a big tomahawk or cooking a more meagre rump steak that will still taste delicious, that thing hits 135F internal, it's medium rare.

"All the guesswork, all the prodding, all the 'turn it seven times' is gone and you turn yourself into a great meat cook who can take the guesswork out of it."

Jess Pryles at work in the Dalby Events Centre kitchen.

Jess Pryles at work in the Dalby Events Centre kitchen.

Foodie culture

Ms Pryles said the foodie culture is incredibly different from the standard consumer when it comes to meat preferences.

"I like to call them the meat Columbuses because they like to discover new things," she said.

"Especially with this whole grilling world and barbecue world on Facebook and Instagram, they love getting to try something they feel like no-one else has tried yet and share it."

Ms Pryles said as an influencer she feels she has a responsibility to her followers

"I can go to my butcher and say 'get me that spider steak out of the aitch bone' but you're never going to be able to get that as a consumer," she said.

"You have to walk the line between cuts that are really cool that you might have been able to try out yourself if you've got a mate that's a butcher and ask him for it, but if you're going to try and encourage people to eat beef, you've got to make it to the point where it's still accessible for them to get it."

Ms Pryles said when it comes to marketing beef, it is possible to target different groups by highlighting everything from barbecue cuts to lean options for the health conscious and cheaper cuts for those on a budget.

"I don't think it has to be one message, I just think it has to be mindful, there has to be multiple campaigns out there," she said.

"People eat beef for multiple reasons and they don't eat beef for multiple reasons... let's address them all."

The story 'Hardcore carnivore' Jess Pryles passionate about consumer education first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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