Hammered Foods: The Story and Product Behind Mr. Duque and Mr. Rosenfeld’s Growing Enterprise

A+mountain+of+Hammered+Foods+products+sits+atop+a+table+in+Fawcett+Library%2C+waiting+to+be+torn+apart+by+hungry+students.+Hammered+Foods+provided+the+Webb+Canyon+Chronicle+with+a+package+of+each+of+their+flavors.+See+in-depth+reviews+at+the+bottom+of+this+article.

Connor Plunkett (‘23)

A mountain of Hammered Foods products sits atop a table in Fawcett Library, waiting to be torn apart by hungry students. Hammered Foods provided the Webb Canyon Chronicle with a package of each of their flavors. See in-depth reviews at the bottom of this article.

You may know Mr. Rick Duque as the WSC Dean of Students and Mr. Ken Rosenfeld as the Dean of Campus Life; they help form the backbone of the community. However, unbeknownst to many, they’ve been leading double lives – Deans by day and ambitious jerky entrepreneurs by night.  

For the past 20 years, Mr. Duque has been making beef jerky as a hobby; he picked up the skills while living in New Mexico. There, jerky is made thin and crispy instead of chunky and chewy. Yet, Dean Duque’s passion didn’t evolve into a full-scale business venture until a couple of years ago after many parents, students, and faculty recommended it.  

“Every time I would get [a bag of jerky] I would get really excited and tell [Mr. Duque], ‘This is really good, you need to sell it’… and about two years ago, I said it again and he said, ‘No, we need to sell it,’” Mr. Rosenfeld said.  

Mr. Duque and Mr. Rosenfeld created “Hammered Foods LLC.” The name “hammered” pays tribute to Mr. Duque’s father, Henry, whose nickname was “Hammer.” Relying on a network of Webb Alumni and friends, they were able to use a factory in Rancho Cucamonga run by a Webb parent to produce the jerky. 

“We slice it using a deli slicer to the width that we want and then put it into a liquid that has certain ingredients in it, take it out and sprinkle some spices on top before putting it into a dehydrating oven for a precise amount of time to get the signature snap,” said Mr. Duque. 

Determined for perfection, they took time adjusting the recipe until “Hammered” was ready for the market.  

“Our guiding principle or North Star is that Hammered Jerky is thin, crispy, and hammered with flavor.” said Mr. Duque. 

“We spend a lot of time working on how to get it thin and crispy, and we spend a lot of time working on our flavors, so we’re really proud of that,” said Mr. Rosenfeld. “Every piece of jerky is hand-sliced, hand-spread, hand-seasoned, hand-packed, so there’s a lot of care that goes into each one.” 

Students can get the jerky by ordering from the Hammered Foods website or going to Mr. Duque’s or Mr. Rosenfeld’s offices. The WCC was lucky enough to obtain the full catalog of flavors, including exclusive access to their newly released pineapple crisps.  

Going forward, Hammered Foods is looking to obtain a USDA stamp to begin selling in stores such as gas stations, specialty stores, or butcher shops. In addition, they look to promote themselves through social media, such as TikTok, and word-of-mouth. 

If you are curious about Hammered Foods and are looking to pick up a bag of jerky or pineapple crisps, we have complied a list of their products complete with reviews of each flavor so that you can make an informed decision regarding your next Hammered purchase.  

 

Original Jerky  

For many, Hammered’s Original Jerky flavor is an introduction to the Hammered Foods brand, and it doesn’t disappoint. The flavor has an “in your face” opening, with a seasoning blend that seems to be a combination of everything you would put on a steak. The intense garlic and onion flavors smack you right in the jaw at your first bite, and the jerky’s light dill aftertaste sticks with you for a few minutes after your last bite. Overall, a strong intro!  

 

Spicy Jerky:  

With Hammered’s Spicy Jerky Crisps it seems they have struck the perfect balance in flavors to accompany this light and airy take on traditional jerky. While it is not particularly spicy upon first bite, a small amount of heat emerges later on. Hammered chose to use Sriracha sauce and seasoning to give this piece its kick and it was without a doubt the right choice, as the heat finds the sweet spot and is just right. This is Hammered’s best jerky flavor without a doubt.
 

Michelada Jerky: 

The Michelada Jerky from Hammered foods is a flavor struggling to find its identity. It is composed of tomato, beer, lime, garlic, and various other spices, each competing with one another, and none with the gall to rise above a dull murmur and take control of the flavor profile. This quiet competition results in a peppery, bitter, and a turkey-like initial taste, and an aftertaste that vaguely resembles tomato soup. The Michelada flavor could be improved by increasing the intensity of a few flavors and letting the others fall into the background, but in its current state, it is one of Hammered’s weakest products.  

 

Smokey Lime Jerky:  

The Smokey Lime Jerky crisps are the perfect place to start for those wanting to see what Hammered foods is all about. They are elegantly simple and unpretentious, allowing the flavors to speak for themselves. Focusing on the key flavors of lime and smoked paprika, this flavor strikes an impeccable balance between the loud and in your face original flavor and the dull and reserved michelada flavor. This, and the Spicy flavor, represent the best jerky Hammered has to offer.  

 

Original Pineapple Crisps:  

Surrounded by products whose flavors electrify your taste buds, this snack goes back to basics. Hammered’s plain pineapple chips are not in your face with potent flavors, they are restrained.  A simple yet tastefully sweet treat that pairs perfectly with a strip of Hammered’s jerky. Almost like a palate cleanser between courses, this chip offers a respite before diving back into the vast array of flavors Hammered has to offer.  

Strawberry Lime Pineapple Crisps:  

This is a very competent flavor; it’s tropical vibe and tart taste resemble that of a fresh mango, or the pulp at the bottom of a Starbucks Strawberry Refresher. Its texture fluctuates from chewy to crispy, but that doesn’t take away from the engaging and refreshing taste that dominates the culinary experience. This flavor is exactly what it claims to be and is overall a great product.  

Chamoy Picante Pineapple Crisps:  

The Chamoy Picante flavor has a rubberier texture than Hammered’s other pineapple chips and it takes you by surprise at first, but it is followed by a dedicated recreation of the Mexican candy Chamoy Picante. The pineapple perfectly accompanies this sweet, sour, and spicy flavor giving the aftertaste a bitter and zesty quality. This is a top-tier flavor combo and one of Hammered food’s best products.  

Cinnamon Sugar Pineapple Crisps:  

Next up are the Cinnamon Sugar Pineapple Crisps, and these are another strong product. This product tastes like how a Christmas Day in Hawaii would feel. The cinnamon sugar is reminiscent of the uniquely American flavors of apple pie, and the pineapple base adds an island twist that pairs perfectly. All in all, a more than acceptable flavor!  

 

Tajin Pineapple Crisps:  

WOW! The Tajin-flavored pineapple crisps are a triumph in flavor combination, and — in the opinion of this reviewer — are the single best product Hammered Foods has to offer. The flavors are loud, never reticent or reserved, and their intense combo of sour and spicy sends your taste buds into a frenzy. These chips are elegant in their simplicity, and outstanding in their taste. What an experience!