Chef Brian Luscher of The Grape on the Kansas Beef Council's Bus Tour

Categories: Chewing the Fat

IngallsKansasCows.jpg
Brian Luscher, Ingalls, Kansas
Recently Sara Blakenship reported that chef Brian Luscher was embarking on summer camp tryst with the Kansas Beef Council. As proprietor and chef of The Grape on Greenville Avenue, undisputed burger master and barbecue pro, what better person to represent Texas out on the ranch?

So, with permission slip signed and his name clearly labeled on his sack lunch (surely a burger), Luscher boarded a bus in Kansas to follow the journey of a steak from pasture to plate. And, this isn't a fancy metaphor. He literally went to the pasture, every step in between, all the way to the processing plant.

The two-day tour included a feedlot with 52,000 head of cattle in middle of nowhere Kansas, an animal auction, a seed lot operation, a cow-calf ranch and the Cargill Meat processing facility in Dodge City (no phones, cameras or open-toed shoes).

Surely not for those with a weak disposition, but certainly worthy of some interesting insight into the meat processing business. So, Luscher, how was camp?

One of the first stops on the tour was at the Cargill Meat Processing facility.

"The number one thing that struck me was the professionalism and cleanliness by which everything is done," Luscher says.

Luscher recognizes that this part of the tour was more than most people ever want to know about their burgers or steaks.

"For some people, they don't want to know where the beef comes from," Luscher says. "They don't want to see the harvest at Cargill, and I get that. That shit is as real as it gets. It's all very surreal. They're processing five to six thousand cattle a day. But, there's dignity in the way they handle it."

Another stop on the trip was the Mule Creek cow-calf ranch operation and Gardiner Angus Ranch, all of which specialize is different areas of breeding and raising cattle.

"The truth of it is," Luscher says, "and no matter what I say someone is going to disagree with me, and I understand that, the majority of cattle and calves are raised by family ranches that have been doing this for three and four generations.

"Would it be better if everyone had their own farm and they could name their cow and brush it's hair? Sure. But, that's not realistic. The point is that we understand the process is safe and understand where it's coming from. And the bulk of the ranchers are American families who love what they do."

Back in Dallas, Luscher was clearly inspired by the tour. He seems to have a new appreciation for American ranchers and no qualms about how our beef is processed. Pointing to rising prices in the beef market, Luscher is emphatic that the process remain in the United States.

"Everyone gets to make their own choice," Luscher said, "but if it's USDA prime and choice steaks or ground beef, I'm down with it."

He's a happy camper.

Location Info

The Grape

2808 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant


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5 comments
Kurt Wayne
Kurt Wayne

Chef Luscher, it's fascinating to read this article just 1 day after I drove from Bella Vista, AR to Denver and back (moving my daughter who is transferring to a college in the latter city) driving right through feedlot country (Dodge City, Cimarron, Garden City, Lamar, CO).  A couple of observations: - Indeed, there was a strong odor by the feedlots in the cities in parens above.  Nonetheless, the day (June 19th) we moved there were intense south-to-north winds in Kansas literally border-to-border from east to west, so that may have stirred up things. - I was AMAZED driving by the Dodge City Cargill plant.  One would think we were in the middle of the "Roaring '10s" instead of the Great Recession to see the veritable OCEAN of vehicles in the Cargill parking lot.  Seriously, I wondered if people were driving all the way from the Texas panhandle, Oklahoma and Colorado to work there, there were that many cars and trucks. - By the feedlots, I was touched by how the cattle just seemed so...serene, eating and doing what cattle do on those lots.  That's only the observation of one driving by on the highway but the scene was the same wherever I went, and again, the highway passes by feedlots in all the cities above between Dodge City and Lamar.

luscher
luscher

You always have been kind to us, thanks.

luscher
luscher

No ass kissery, here. Just paid attention in class on a topic I am interested in and now sharing what I learned and saw first hand. I will be the first to admit I don't know everything. You are an educated consumer making educated choices, as your history of posts would prove, TW. South America produces a considerable amount of beef. I think the ratio of cattle to humans is, something like, 4:1 in Uruguay. Certainly a contender for America's, and the world's, beef dollar. And if the product wasn't safe, it wouldn't be on store shelves.  As you stated "you pays your money and takes your choice."

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

 "I wouldn't want my meat coming from any other country than the United States. Now, that would be scary." A tremendous amount of beef served in the US comes from Argentina.  Sprout's sells organic beef from Uruguay.  A lot of the lamb in the US comes from New Zealand. It is very important that all foods are marked with their country of origin so consumers can make their own choices.  Unfortunately, you don't know where most of the meat in restaurants comes from, especially fast food.

luscher
luscher

I, myself, was most skeptical going into the feedyard portion of the tour. However, the feedyard operation we visited, which managed over 52,000 head of cattle, was remarkably clean, with just the faintest whiff of barnyard essence. [pictured above]  Space allotted was 250 sq ft per head. Plenty of feed and ample fresh water available in each pen. The health of each head of cattle is assesed upon it's arrival at the feedyard. Throughout the process involved at the feedyard, health and well-being of cattle are checked, by ranchers on horseback, multiple times a day. During the tour, I spoke with a gentleman who holds a PhD in Ruminant Nutrition, who spoke intelligently on a cow's ability to process corn, especially in the steam-flaked format. The steam-flaked corn is then mixed with hay in varying degrees based on the direction from registered ruminant dietitions. Regarding "pumped full of antibiotics"; my understanding is the administering of antibiotics, is much like an immunization  process.  And that only the narrowest spectrum of antimicrobials possible are employed and limited to the prevention/control of disease and not for the improvement of performance. There is no trace of these antibiotics [see FDA Antibiotic Guidlines] in the animal as it is sent to harvest. The best part is, mike1823, is that you do have a choice. And clearly you have made one. To me, the biggest fear is having that freedom taken away by the over-legislation put on the American Ranchers and Meat Processors.  I wouldn't want my meat coming from any other country than the United States. Now, that would be scary.

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