A taste of 'Philly Jerk': Small business crafts vegan alternative to beef jerky

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Monday, January 9, 2023
'Philly Jerk': Small business crafts vegan alternative to beef jerky
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"Finally, a jerk you won't have beef with." Ben Doar, a mechanical engineer by trade, has engineered a vegan snack for the city to enjoy.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Finally, a jerk you won't have beef with," said Ben Doar, highlighting one of the key slogans to his latest small business venture.

Doar grew up in Center City with an Israeli family that always prioritized food. But the mechanical engineer by trade never thought he'd work in the culinary field.

"Traditionally, with an engineering background, I've created more tactile and mechanical things," he said. "But back in 2020, I found myself in the kitchen, creating food."

His plant-based jerky recipe became a hit among friends and family. But he wanted to share it with the rest of the city and beyond.

"We wanted to create a snack that's available to everyone whether you're a meat eater, vegan, or vegetarian like myself," he said.

That's how Philly Jerk was born.

Doar started operating out of other commercial kitchens in the city before growing enough to secure his own space in South Philadelphia. The corner property does not house an in-person shop for the public. Rather, it is the headquarters where Philly Jerk is cooked, packaged, and shipped.

"Most of our sales have been online," he said. "And we sell wholesale to about 20 different accounts in the Philadelphia area and we have one in Austin, Texas and one in LA."

Philly Jerk is not yet a full-time job for Doar, but he gets help from friends and family, especially his wife and his nephew, Jared Sparks.

"One thing I really admire that I've gathered from him is his creativity and, like, his passion," said Sparks about Doar. "I try and you know, take pride in my work and I think a lot of that comes from him."

Philly Jerk continues to hold strong roots in Philadelphia, appearing on shelves in many local markets like Weavers Way Co-Op. But in the future, Doar hopes it will soar beyond the city.

"The plant-based foods are becoming a household name. There's a lot of options, which is great because there wasn't 10, 15, 20 years ago," he said. "So, I really want to build the brand out. I want to see Philly Jerk all over the country."

To learn more about Philly Jerk, find locations, or to place an order, visit their website.

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