Doug Katz, chef-owner of one of the go-to restaurants on the east side of Cleveland, buys half a cow every two or three weeks from Aaron Miller, the farmer farmer profiled in the previous post. Doug believes in all the things Aaron and Melissa do—humane animal husbandry, local food, the elegance of grass fed beef—and he wants to encourage the Millers with his dollars.
“I was really nervous,” this, the most genial chef in town, said. “I was afraid I was going to get my ass kicked with this very special product.”
Here’s why it’s hard to buy even half an animal. His half a cow gives him 1 brisket, 1 flank, 24 steaks (tenderloin, rib and strip), 8 pounds of short ribs, 100 pounds of ground beef, and 20 pounds of bones. Doug does 1000 covers a week and goes through about 100 steaks. He’d need to buy four cows every week to fill steak orders, but this would leave him with 400 pounds of hamburger—more than his menu can handle no matter how ingeniously he put it to use and keep the menu balanced—and 80 pounds of bones. The ratio of specialty high priced cuts to trim is too big to buy enough cows to cover the steak orders on a weekly basis, so he does what he can do.
But he came up with a great idea. What made it all work was offering the specialty cuts on the menu as retail items. Sometimes Doug will run specials of these cuts, but mainly he advertises them on his menu; his customers become interested and they take strips home. This way he can educate his customer, sell them the best grass fed beef around, and support Aaron and Melissa’s farm. Yes, he buys his strips and ribs in the conventional way, but he’s also found this way to contribute to ensuring a continuing source of grass-fed beef.
When I was leaving the Miller’s farm on Monday, Aaron said to me, “I just need one more chef like Doug.” Cleveland chefs, any takers?
Thank you Doug and Aaron!