We Come with a Little Bit of History

Black Forest Smoke House is the result of a unique story that reflects the character of Australia’s past and the tenacity of our family.

The Deignan family have been proud meat providores for four generations.

Their story began with the arrival of Bernard (Barney) Deignan, of German and Irish descent, in Australia in 1863. At the time, Australia was a harsh, undeveloped country and the Deignans had little cash to survive on.

Mr Deignan, a pioneer in the true sense of the word, established himself as a ‘cockie’ and settled in the outback Queensland town of Cunnamulla. To earn an income, he began trading cattle. With a Bullock cart as his form of transport, he bought cattle in the west of Queensland then moved them up towards Brisbane for re-sale. Eventually, Mr. Deignan opened his first butcher’s shop. This was to be the first of many Deignan family butcheries in Queensland.

Settle Down

Mr. Deignan married a local girl and they had three sons, all of whom followed their father into the business of butchery. Together they opened another shop in Charlesville and, with the arrival of World War Two, found themselves contracted to the Australian and American Armed Services to supply fresh beef to the troops. Boosted by the strength of these contracts, the Deignan’s business continued to grow and before long, he and his three sons owned 16 butcher’s shops in Brisbane.

Following the war, Australia became a popular home for European migrants keen on starting their lives over. The Deignans became renowned among these new Australians for the small goods they hand crafted in traditional European styles. 

Pressure From the Mains

While the Deignan’s businesses continued to prosper throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, it was in the 1980s that their growth began to slow. The arrival of major supermarket chains introduced greater competition and placed pressure on prices. The Deignans knew that they would need to stand up and fight against the looming competition or consolidate their now significant holdings and slowly withdraw from the business. They chose the latter path and decided to encourage their own children to choose alternate careers.

While it wasn’t easy for the Deignan boys to unwind their business, their children weren’t in the least concerned. None were interested in continuing the family butchery business at that time.

However, things were to change when Richard Deignan, the only great great grandson of the original family pioneer, stepped back from his chosen career in rugby, having realised his sporting future looked bleak.

Richard decided to return to the family business of butchery and eventually, his father began to encourage his decision.  However, Bernard advised Richard that rather than re-establish the family business in Brisbane, he should look to Sydney where a large population, with a high percentage of Europeans, were sure to embrace the family’s artisan tradition.

That was back in 1982, and now, thanks to his passion and craftsmanship, his respect for family heritage, and focus on providing consistent, reliable service, Richard is the proud owner of a multi-award winning smokehouse that is patronised by Australia’s leading chefs.

Having moved from Brisbane to establish himself in Sydney, Richard Deignan’s small goods are now distributed to leading international hotel chains, fine dining restaurants and gourmet food distributors along much of Australia’s eastern seaboard – from Hamilton Island in Queensland to Melbourne in Victoria.