San Antonio sustainable-meat company Rebel Food launching line of 'bespoke' sausages

Should the Red River Reserve sausage launch be billed a success, Rebel Food owner Josh Kirk said it may be just the beginning of a prepared foods expansion for the company.

click to enlarge Rebel Food Provisions is gearing up to launch a new product line called Red River Reserve Sausage. - Nina Rangel
Nina Rangel
Rebel Food Provisions is gearing up to launch a new product line called Red River Reserve Sausage.

We won't call it a "sausage party," even though we kinda want to.

San Antonio-based Rebel Food Provisions, a purveyor of locally sourced meats, is gearing up to launch a new product line called Red River Reserve Sausage meant to leverage the growing popularity of sustainably raised animal proteins.

The company started in 2020 to preach the gospel of meat butchered from animals that aren't pumped full of antibiotics and filler. Business boomed during the pandemic as shortages made commercially produced meat harder to get nationwide. That brought a significant upswing in customers who previously hadn't sought out product from smaller, sustainable farms.

That expanded interest paved the way for Rebel Food Provisions and other artisan meat purveyors to build repeat business from local families.

Rebel Food owner-operators and life partners Josh Kirk and Erica Conway, both foodservice industry veterans, concentrate on supporting ranchers and farmers in South Texas. The duo hand-selects beef, pork and poultry that are GMO-, hormone- and antibiotic-free and distributes via an online store.

Efficient and tasty

The upcoming sausage line — which Kirk calls "bespoke" — will be RFP's first self-prepared food offering. Though the term "bespoke" is most often used in the fashion world, it can also identify anything custom made.

To Kirk's mind, there's an appetite for labor-intensive handcrafted links, but the expansion also will help the company cut back on waste.

"Honestly, we see it as a labor of love and necessity. Our processing room creates a lot of high-end trim," he said. "We looked at outsourcing the production, but ran into issues with almost everyone we spoke to. Some only wanted to produce standard sausage flavors — we're looking for a little uniqueness. Others wanted minimum runs, which also didn't line up with our bespoke ideas. So ultimately, we decided to do what we do and figure it out."

That process involved partnering with Mark Garcia, whom Kirk describes as an old friend and sausage guru. If that name sounds familiar, it may be because he served as boss and head sausage-maker at south-of-downtown barbecue joint Bandit BBQ.

Crowdfunding the links

The partnership between Rebel Food and Garcia  launched a Kickstarter last week to fund a $10,000 addition of new equipment to the meat purveyor's Northeast San Antonio facility. The fundraiser will run through May 5.

Once that's complete, Red River line will join Rebel Food's other meats in its online store.

Garcia will create the chef-inspired links using what he calls a "mix of traditional Polish, German and Czech methods with modern Texas flavors." In addition to South Texas-sourced meats, the links will include locally grown additions such as garlic, herbs and onions, creating a "very accessible things using bougie-ass materials."

Through his time at Bandit and other dining spots, Garcia has racked up 17 years of experience making far-out franks, reveling in flavor combinations that would leave many Oscar Mayer customers scratching their heads. His past flavors include crawfish boil and lobster-macaroni and cheese. He's even added Fruity Pebbles to breakfast links.

Garcia is tight lipped about the flavor combinations he plans for Red River. However,  his research and development work is on display at monthly First Friday pop-ups he holds at Bruno's Dive Bar in Southtown. To date, sausages available at his pop-ups have included crawfish, cherry-chipotle and jalapeño-cheddar.

Should it have success with the Red River launch, Rebel Food owner Kirk said it may be just the beginning for the company. He plans to obtain a state license that will allow the facility to produce other food lines that make use of sustainable and humanely raised meat.

"The facility we're building will have a 'cook plant' grant of inspection, so we've been looking at additional items," he said. "But [those are details] for another day."

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Nina Rangel

Nina Rangel uses nearly 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry to tell the stories of movers and shakers in the food scene in San Antonio. As the Food + Nightlife Editor for the San Antonio Current, she showcases her passion for the Alamo City’s culinary community by promoting local flavors, uncovering...

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