FIGHTING the tag of cute hobby farm animals, the alpaca industry is making a mark on dinner plates.
A venture between Australia’s oldest privately owned alpaca stud Illawarra Alpacas and fellow South Coast producers Millpaca stud has seen a burgeoning restaurant trade for the meat.
Under the name Illawarra Prime Alpaca, Ian Davison’s Cambewarra stud is seeking the industry’s commercial development with Millpaca’s Ian Frith, Berry.
While both studs initially bred for fleece, they’ve recognised that, as livestock, alpacas must also be bred for meat to be commercially viable.
But the hurdle they had to overcome was the cooking process.
Mr Frith believes chefs have to be trained properly to cook the meat due to its low fat content.
So he joined forces with Hungry Duck restaurant chef and owner David Campbell, Berry.
Together they are “taking alpaca to the people,” training chefs and offering foodies an experience to taste the newest meat on the chopping block.
“David has really been our pioneer,” Mr Frith said.
“I love alpaca capaccio, ribs, osso bucco from the neck, and the sausages are moving really well.”
He said the joint enterprise was averaging five carcases a week.
Mr Campbell made the decision to put alpaca on the menu because it was “something a bit different”.
So far, it has been popular with diners.
“We have had really positive feedback, and people keep coming back specifically to try the alpaca,” he said.
“We are often asked where they can get alpaca to cook at home – we then have to break it to them that they can’t buy it so they’ll have to keep coming back.”
For more on the growing alpaca meat market, as well profiles on an heirloom tomato grower and a report on the Farming Small Areas Expo, see Farming Small Areas – free with the December 8 issue of The Land.