Ben Miles is sous chef at the Margarita at Pine Creek, where he’s spent the last 10 years, but his love of beef jerky goes back to his days in high school. “Basically, I started making jerky before I even really got into cooking,” he tells the Report.

That love never let up, and as the now 39-year-old chef learned to trade dry rubs for long marinades, blossomed into the Miles High Jerky Company, a purveyor of gourmet dried meats with flavors like Sambal, Serrano Pineapple, Asian Mustard and Blistered Habanero.

“Just bigger and bolder flavors, for sure,” Miles says to describe how his style has evolved. “And working with [executive chef] Eric [Viedt] over the last 10 years, our flavors are pretty big and smack you in the face pretty hard. So, I’ve kind of tried to incorporate that with our jerky as well. And try to keep it as minimal ingredients-wise as we can.”

The beef comes courtesy of unused restaurant scraps sourced from places like Ranch Foods Direct or Anderson Meat Company, which means “higher end strip loins and nice cuts of beef,” Miles says. “There’s a nice fat content to it.”

From there, it’s marinated in a gluten-free tamari base for 36 to 48 hours and then dries for around six hours in a commercial dehydrator that can crank out 30 pounds at a time. Then it might be combined with local honey, in the case of the teriyaki, or filled with serranos or habaneros from Wheeler Farm.

Miles plans to sell at the Colorado Farm and Art Market’s winter market, but otherwise all orders are currently taken through the website, where you you can find jerky flavors like his personal favorite, Smoked Vegetable.

I was just messing around one day and I smoked some onions and jalapeños and threw some fresh garlic and the tamari in it and made the jerky, and it was just an incredible jerky,” he says. “I mean, you get this really nice, smoky, umami flavor.

“I would describe my jerky more as higher-end — just flavor-wise and the experience you get out of it. It’s nice and tender; there’s a good fat content so you get a lot of big flavor. And so the smoked veg is just a great all round beef jerky.”

[Image: Courtesy Miles High Jerky Co.]