Natural beef brand launched

The Brasserie restaurant served as
host to the launch of the meats of Certified Angus Beef brand Natural and Niman
Ranch on Saturday 10 July.

The event was attended by more than
a dozen local chefs as well as paying guests and offered a seven-course meal
and accompanying wines.  All but the
dessert course featured the meats of Certified Angus Beef brand Natural and
Niman Ranch.

Certified Angus Beef is a brand of
meat from Angus cattle, a breed that originated in Scotland. Black Angus is the
most popular breed of cattle in the United States. Certified Angus Beef is a
particular brand of beef that must meet specific standards for marbling,
tenderness, age, and colour.  Established
in 1978, the Certified Angus Beef brand has been available in the Cayman
Islands for 15 years.  However, the brand
Natural has never been available here before.

What sets the brand Natural apart
from other Certified Angus Beef is the way the cattle are raised in an
environmentally sustainable and humane way. Niman Ranch, which is one of two
partners producing Certified Angus Beef brand Natural, also produces lamb and
pork in its 685 farm ranches in the US.

Niman Ranch CEO and Chairman Jeff
Swain, who attended the Brasserie launch of the brand, said his brand stood for
five things: small family farms where animals a grown in small numbers;
sustainable production that doesn’t leave a big footprint on the environment;
high animal welfare protocol; controlled genetics; and strictly vegetarian
feed.  Niman Ranch products are from
free-range animals that are given no hormones or antibiotics.  The result is not only a healthier product,
but a more flavourful one as well.

“We believe we produce the best tasting
meat in the world,” he said.  “The only
way a ranch gets to become a Niman Ranch is if it has a wow factor when you put
[its products] in your month.”

To put that claim to the test,
Brasserie Consultant Chef Dean Max and Executive Chef Brad Phillips took charge
of preparing the meal, which included three courses that featured Certified
Angus Beef brand Natural: a beef tenderloin tartar, a beef short rib and
dry-aged cowboy ribeye. Three courses featured other meats produced by Niman
Ranch: a braised lamb ravioli; a pork chop and smoked pork belly, which was
cooked with beluga lentils and topped with a piece of seared local swordfish.
As is usually the case at the Brasserie, the meal also featured several
farm-to-table ingredients as accompaniments, like local hard-cooked eggs, fried
squash flowers and corn from Joel Walton’s garden, local pumpkin, and crispy
cassava. All the courses were paired with wines provided by Blackbeards.

One of the chefs on hand for the
evening, Jason Koppinger, gave rave reviews of the Niman Ranch and Certified
Angus Beef brand Natural products.  Mr.
Koppinger, executive chef and partner of the soon-to-open Wine Down wine bar,
restaurant, and gourmet market, has used the Niman Ranch products in the past.

“It’s fantastic and with the
organic movement that has become so very prevalent throughout the culinary
industry, more and more chefs are leaning toward the farm-to-table approach, in
which Dean and Brad at the Brasserie are setting the bar,” he said. “With Niman
Ranch and CAB, you get only superbly raised product that delivers and
unforgettable experience for the guest, while leaving the chef with the
knowledge that ‘I’m doing the right thing’ by both my customer and the

Maggie O’Quinn, the international
executive account manager for Certified Angus Beef, said Cayman was ready to
take the step to the brand Natural, even though most places in the Caribbean
were not.

“At the moment, Cayman is at a
culinary crossroads,” she said. “It’s game on right now in terms of quality.  You’re taking what was always done and
stepping it up here,”

Ms O’Quinn noted that the
penetration of Certified Angus Beef products is actually higher in Cayman
market than in the US and that demand has continued here even in the
down-turned economy.

“The tourists that come to Cayman
and the locals are sophisticated and want to know where their food comes,” she
said. “We can answer that question.”

Progressive Distributors provided
the meat for the Certified Angus Beef ‘Au Natural’ event.  Progressive’s Sales Manager Alok Singh said
the Niman Ranch and CAB brand Natural products would be available at
restaurants and possibly in retail stores. 
If retailers don’t carry the products, it will be available at Progressive’s
cash-and-carry outlet.