In the Spring of 2000, having just moved to Denver from the small mountain hamlet of Cascade, CO, and thinking that I would be in Colorado another three to six months before moving back to Grand Rapids (I had been away from home for over four years now), I took my first job serving tables. The California Cafe was a fine dining restaurant that, besides wanting its applicants to have had two years of fine dining experience, desired for its servers to have an extensive knowledge of wine (they had a truly impressive cellar of California wines). Now, not only had I never served before but the extent of my wine knowledge included (1) that wine is made from grapes, and (2) that there were two types: white and red. And so the first thing I did after talking the general manager into giving me a job (which, two weeks later, she would end up regretting) was to head straight to Barnes & Nobel for my first primer on the subject: Wine for Dummies. Read more

This week, a return to our roots (steak) by plugging a book currently in my possession, a book I discovered as we research and pursue the best beef that we can get our hands on. The name of the book is Steak (One  Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef). Shared below is the inside front and back covers of Mark Schatzker’s book. I hope it stirs you to read it (and I believe it will): Read more

What I’ve been attempting to do in this series (“A Quest Begins”) is certainly no more than Theodore Roosevelt attempted in African Game Trails, the serial account, written from the hunting fields, of the African safari on which he embarked just after his presidency (and if this sounds like hyperbole, it is). Our quarry: not water buffalo, elephants, and lions but simply the best beef we’ve ever tasted. Our field: not the savannahs of the Dark Continent but the farms and ranches of North America. Apparently, judging from a Wall Street Journal article (“Having a Cow About Steak Quality”), this has not been the first attempt at such a quest but one undertaken by Mark Schatzker and chronicled his book Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef . Read more

“La Foret Chapel Gate,” Pam Holnback. Used with Permission.

The “Quest” alluded to in the title of this post refers to my company’s pursuit for the most flavorful, succulent beef: an adventure arising out of a conversation with my friend Ben and recounted in the previous post (please see  “The Quest Begins [Part I]“).

Our first stop was to be at a small but thriving family ranch in Monument, CO, just northwest of Colorado Springs. The meeting was tentatively for the following Tuesday or Wednesday, but first we would spend the days leading up to the visit with friends and loved ones in the area (I lived in Colorado for seven years prior to moving back to Michigan). Driving into Colorado Springs late Saturday afternoon, June 23, we were greeting by a portentous omen: a great plume of thick smoke rising just behind the ridge line. This was Day One of the Waldo Canyon Fire, Read more

“Going West,” Therese Desjardin. Used with permission.

We were sitting in a steakhouse in downtown Grand Rapids on a Thursday afternoon, Ben and I, conversing over a couple of beers. It was May, and he was interested in my idea for a steak company and wanted to hear more. It was in the course of conversation that Ben that suggested that I make an adventure out of the launch of the business–that I hit the road in search of the best beef out there. It could be a cross-country trek, spanning the better part of the summer: each week I could blog about the ranches and farms that were visited and about the characters that were met along the way. Admittedly, the idea had a certain appeal; after all, it tapped into a man’s sense of going on an adventure, of partaking in some great quest, which is especially appealing when that adventure takes you West: to Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Visions of cowboys, horses, dust, and sage brush begin to swirl in one’s mind.  But, like water, we tend to seek the path of least resistance, and since my Family at Duba’s Restaurant had worked with a local butcher for a number of years who had a very good product, it was just as well that this relationship was continued. The quest was allowed to simply pass by the wayside and was nearly forgotten… Read more