New meat on the block

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeThe West Australian
Frasers Restaurant chef Chris Taylor with a free alpaca slider.
Camera IconFrasers Restaurant chef Chris Taylor with a free alpaca slider. Credit: Cally Dupe

What does alpaca meat actually taste like?

It was the question I and dozens of others sought to answer at last week’s Farmer on Your Plate event at Perth’s CBD.

One event-goer, Lamont Williamson, of Victoria Park, said he rushed to the city after reading in The West Australian free alpaca sliders were on offer at the annual farming expo at Forrest Chase.

Licking his lips after taking a bite of the mini-burger, Mr Williamson grinned and told me it was a delicious form of “pure meat”

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“It tastes like beef used to, it’s gorgeous,” he said.

“I think people will absolutely like this. I intend to buy some straight away.”

The alpaca slider in question.
Camera IconThe alpaca slider in question. Credit: Cally Dupe

As someone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat (bizarre, for a person that grew up surrounded by cattle country), I was interested to try a slider and find out what the fuss was about.

After photographing my slider in true Gen Y reporter-fashion, I took a bite.

It was pretty good.

The alpaca-meat patty was lean yet tasty, and complemented by pickles, shredded cabbage, coriander and onion on a white bun.

I wasn’t the only one impressed.

Country Women’s Association members Sara Kenny and Maggie Donaldson, at Farmer on Your Plate to promote the non-for-profit group, rated it “five stars”.

“Sensational, and not so different that you wouldn’t try it,” Ms Donaldson said.

“I see why you would eat it and it’s a great way for their business to diversify, by selling meat.”

Bedrock Alpacas owners Chris and Tara Ravenhill, and Kallaroo Alpacas at Albany, started the business WA Prime Alpaca to process and distribute WA alpaca meat.

Chris and Tara Ravenhill from WA Prime Alpaca with the alpaca meat they are producing for sale.
Camera IconChris and Tara Ravenhill from WA Prime Alpaca with the alpaca meat they are producing for sale. Credit: Megan Powell The West Australian.

One of WA’s top chefs said demand for alpaca meat would increase once “word gets out” about how good the lean, protein-rich meat tasted.

Fraser’s Restaurant chefs Chris Taylor and Julian Heath spent last Thursday dishing up alpaca sliders with the Ravenhills at Farmer on Your Plate.

The line for the free sliders was bustling and the mini-burgers were snapped up quick.

But can Australians get past the thought of eating an alpaca?

Yes, according to Mr Taylor.

“Some people are funny… but it’s unique and I think the availability is becoming more and more,” he said.

“Once people see it they will get more familiar with it and then you get more demand.”

Frasers Restaurant chef Julien Heath.
Camera IconFrasers Restaurant chef Julien Heath. Credit: Cally Dupe

Mr Taylor said the meat was suitable for “roasting, grilling, or anything you would do with capretto or lamb” and had been well-received by the public.

“The reception was huge, people came back for seconds,” he said,

“It’s very lean and has the same protein count as chicken.”

Fair enough.

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