DeLand family turns to homemade beef jerky after losing life savings

Inspiration hit local business owner during recession

By Carolina Cardona - Reporter

DeLAND, Fla. - A DeLand couple has become somewhat of a staple in the community thanks to the pair's homemade beef jerky.

Mark Pescatore, better known as Mr. P, cuts about 150 pounds of top round pot roast meat a day. 

"I special order this. I get this from Florida. All my beef is Florida raised," Pescatore said.

After the meat gets sliced, it's placed into four separate bins. Each one has a different marinade where the meat sits for a day. Pescatore said each sauce has a secret recipe he came up with. 

"We have a buffalo style hot, comes out very mild. We have a teriyaki, which everybody loves," the father of four said.

The meat is then placed on racks and goes into an oven for the drying process. It's a snack Pescatore learned to make during his Boy Scout days. 

"The Egyptians actually did jerky that far back, the processing of the meat. Of course in America, the Native Americans," Pescatore said.

It's a labor of love for Pescatore but one that brings him to tears when he talks about how it all began. 

"Everything in our lives we planned; four kids, different ages, we planned that. We planned working for Publix supermarkets. We planned retiring. I planned a cleaning company that I started. I never, ever planned for 2008."

When the 2008 recession hit, the Pescatore family lost all their life savings and almost lost the cabin Pescatore had built for his wife when he was 19. During that time, he thought of ways to stay afloat and then inspiration hit him.

"We always made jerky. I've done it my whole life," Pescatore said. "One day my wife won some tickets to the races and we go to the Daytona races and I made some jerky and I'm passing it out to everybody and people just love it, and I look at my wife and say 'Hey, Let's make jerky'."

Since then, family members have been going nonstop, working 14-hour days, but they see the reward in their customers, some of whom come from as far as Korea.

"If it wasn't for them, I don't know if I could do this every day," Pescatore said. "It's making a product that people love. It brings back memories to a lot of people, we make people feel good and realistically in life, food makes everybody feel good."

To place an online order, click here.

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