One of the top names in cattle ranching is a chef’s prime partner.
It has recently been spotted on high-end ranch-to-table restaurant chalkboards all over Dallas as a point of pride: 44 Farms steaks. Which prompts the question — in a town known for its steakhouses, what makes 44 Farms steaks special? Turns out, it’s all about the rancher-chef relationship.
Founded in 1909 by S.W. and Josie McClaren in Cameron, Texas, 44 Farms realized over the last several years that in order to grow, the company needed to introduce itself to the chefs who would be buying the brand’s beef. “It began as an online business that quickly grew because of the faith and trust of two well-known Houston chefs, Randy Evans [formerly of Haven] and Peter Laufer [of ARA restaurant at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Houston],” explains Bob McClaren, fourth-generation owner of 44 Farms. “Each chef was searching for a source from which they could acquire high-quality Angus beef from a reliable Texas ranch. They each visited 44 Farms, where they saw our Angus cattle and were able to see firsthand the care that we extend to the cattle and the land. We shared a meal with each chef and the relationships have grown from there.”
Indeed, Laufer notes the importance of the quality of the meat, but it’s more than that. “For me, knowing where the beef comes from plays a big part,” he says. “As an additional bonus, they’re great people to work with.”
John Tesar, chef-owner of Knife at the Highland Hotel in Dallas, has had 44 Farms steaks on the menu since his groundbreaking steakhouse opened in 2014. Tesar uses 44 Farms beef for everything from a silky tartare with Beausoleil oysters and a fried egg to a 45-day dry-aged choice rib-eye cooked over red oak. He also uses it in the best pig in a blanket you’ll ever have: It’s a plump all-beef hot dog in a flaky pastry wrapping served with house-made mustard on the side.
“From the beginning, it was important to me to use real Texas beef at Knife,” Tesar explains. “But the beef had to be incredible, natural, and treated well. Visit 44 Farms, and you’ll see the cows look and act like they’re on vacation.”
It’s the time and care that 44 Farms puts into its cattle that makes the difference. “Paying attention to the details means we are able to follow every animal and know everything about his or her life at 44 Farms,” McClaren says. “We think it is important for the consumer to know where their beef comes from and how that animal was raised, developed, and cared for. We call this the 44 Farms ‘Know Your Rancher’ program. That is why we welcome our customers to visit us. We want them to know us.”
For more information on 44 Farms, to place an order, or to schedule a trip to the ranch, visit www.44steaks.com.
From the May/June 2015 issue.