In the fourth episode of our Young Entrepreneur series we stop by Steakation Artisan Butcher’s new store, taste some biltong and have a few laughs with proprietors Dean and Alex.
By Erin Paviour-Smith Photography by Jennifer Balcombe

Dean Labuschagne, a City & Guilds qualified former Chef originally from South Africa, started making biltong (which is a form of dried, cured meat) because he wanted to create a taste that he loved to make from home and in Dean’s typical down-to-earth style, he just wanted everybody to try it.

Beachin’ Biltong

The Beachin’ Biltong brand began during the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes. Dean and his partner Alex would give biltong to friends, neighbours and family as it was the ideal snack for the time, requiring no refrigeration.

It was so popular that Dean packaged it and sold it in stores such as RiteWay and Drakes Traders. When Alex a well-known entrepreneur in her own right, opened her flagship E.Co store on Main Street in Road Town, Beachin’ Biltong had a small space in the back of the store, but Dean couldn’t keep up with the fresh meat supply needed for the demand of his mouth-watering biltong.

As with most products, economies of scale were needed to balance cost and soon the couple were faced with the decision to order a much larger quantity of meat and this is how Steakation Artisan Butchery came
to fruition.

Artisan Butchery & much more

A team of nine, including Dean and Alex now run two locations – the manufacturing and working area of the butchery in the smaller original location, plus the recently-opened retail store situated next to Richardson’s Rigging on Waterfront Drive.

The experienced Head Butcher known only as Cowboy, grew up on a farm in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada and has been hunting and working in this line of work his whole life. He works closely with resident Chef Ariq, who grew up in Virgin Gorda and trained at Rosewood Little Dix then went on to work at Necker Island and Bitter End Yacht Club. Both Cowboy and Ariq are learning each other’s craft, together creating artisan products for residents, businesses and visitors. We watched, with mouths watering as Ariq prepared skirt steaks stuffed with fresh spinach and blue cheese as a special for the day.

“I have always believed that if you can’t get it, just make it” says Dean. “We love it when a customer comes into the store and requests a specific product that they cannot source anywhere else, like haggis for example. All we need is a little time, but nothing is impossible” he continues.

The product range – Source local

The products at Steakation are artisanal and locally sourced first and foremost. Dean supports BVI food growers and producers and the store is not just dedicated to meat and fish products. There is something for everybody with a range of fresh local vegetables to choose from, unique vegetarian snacks, plus a bulk bar and innovative products such as seafood sausage made using a collagen casing with salmon, scallops and lobster.

If products are sourced internationally they’re from small batch producers who don’t manufacture in large quantities and all organic wherever possible. In terms of their proteins, these come straight from sustainable ranches where the animals are ethically raised.

Steakation have the only in-house commercial smoker in the BVI and around twice a week the team smoke their own bacon, salami, chicken, sausages, biltong and cabanossi amongst many others.

There’s a dedicated area where customers can choose their fish, supporting 4-5 different local fishermen who bring in their catch of the day such as Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna and Snapper. Fresh Anegada Lobster is also available in season. Alex mentions that on this particular day they have extra Anegada Red Snapper that they’re salting down to make salt fish. “Why import Cod when we can use local?” Alex says.

This is the approach to the butchery fostered by Dean and Alex, stemming from their passion for food, buying and supporting local wherever possible and inventing new products.

“Come inside and see what’s available, what’s fresh” Dean says. There is something for everybody. We think this makes great sense.

The first store on your right-hand side as you drive into Wickhams Cay II, opposite TICO