Chris Thorn is an avid hunter and gatherer; whether it is from the sea or the top of the Southern Alps he’s climbed it, shot at it and hopefully eaten it. For years Chris worked hard to turn his passion for hunting and curing wild venison meats into a business beginning with the creation of Venison Small Goods in 2014. After years of perfecting recipes and techniques it was time take his passion public and turn dreams into reality. He renamed Venison Small Goods into Gathered Game in 2015 and with the assistance of his wife, Sally, and brother, David, launched a unique range of Wild Venison Salami in 2016.
Gathered Game began in the South Island of New Zealand where there is no shortage of game to enjoy. With the head office based in Te Anau, wild deer gathered from Fiordland and processed in Lumsden, Gathered Game is proud to be a Southland based business. Gathered Game brings the best of both worlds together, wild New Zealand game and the art of preserving and dry aging organic meat.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
I founded Gathered game in 2015 with the dream of bringing two of my most endeared arts to the public, hunting and curing the meat I gathered. Essentially ever since I could hunt, I was crafting wild game meat into various salami, sausages, pastrami and other cured meats. It has been a passion of mine for over 20 years. After years of perfecting recipes and techniques it was time to take the passion public; turn dreams into reality. My factory is located in Southland, New Zealand where there is no shortage of game to enjoy.
Here in New Zealand we have so much amazing hunting at our doorstep and such a large number of Kiwis get out there and do it, but we do lack the culinary diversity to make the most of our amazing animals. Curing is relatively new to New Zealand and we are still getting our head around what is a centuries old technique of preserving food.
I will always strive to produce an authentic, traditionally aged product inspired by the European style cured meats coupled with our remarkable wild game. Blending original craft with wild, organic super nutrient food source. It’s time to open our eyes to a completely new way of eating wild New Zealand meat. Gathered Game brings the best of both worlds together: wild New Zealand game and the art of preserving and dry aging organic meat.
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
Our Salami range is made from premium wild New Zealand venison with a touch of free range pork. All our products are dairy free and gluten free. Gathered Game salamis are handcrafted fermented sausage cured with herbs and spices – all perfectly aged for up to 12 weeks to create a delicious old fashion style salami with New Zealand’s remarkable wild game.
Our Salamis are totally unique. We handcraft premium wild New Zealand venison salami cured the old fashioned way – dry aged with herbs and spices. While almost all of New Zealand’s venison smallgoods are cooked or hot smoked to produce larger quantities, Gathered Game Salamis are NOT heat treated. We utilize traditional dry ageing process that adds a depth of flavour and texture which simply can’t be faked. Genuine Salami is a dry aged cured fermented meat and doesn’t involve cooking whatsoever. Gathered Game is proud to stay true to this traditional dry aging craft. We guarantee you’ll taste the difference!
Has there been any recent company news?
We are shifting our home (and company office) from Kingston to Te Anau. My brother, David, works with early stage start-ups and has stepped into the business over the years to help us grow. We’re excited to launch our first ever set of marketing campaigns to drive customers to stores that stock our product.
We are now producing a wholesale foodservice salami which will be a totally unique premium wild venison salami in the market. We also have some very secret products in testing phase which we can’t reveal just yet.
What are the plans for the business moving forward? Is there any expansion on the horizon?
We have only really launched softly in the market over the past year and now, having perfected our recipes, product, business model and operations, we are preparing for a period of strong growth to meet growing customer demand across the country.
We continue to innovate in our production methods investing heavily into R&D on compartment fermentation and drying facilities, all to reduce our production costs and offer an affordable product so more Kiwis can enjoy our delicious products. Our production facility is now geared for increased throughput so we can manage larger orders from May 2017.
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
You can find Gathered Game products in over 50 stores nationwide. You can find a store here: https://gatheredgame.co.nz/pages/find-a-store. We are interested in supplying any retailer or foodservice business with a passion for NZ made artisan products and supporting local NZ business.