Farm-to-table food is all in a day’s work for chefs from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants – including going to a cattle farm, learning exactly where the beef they cook and serve comes from.
Teaming up with the Ohio Beef Council, executive chefs from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, based in Columbus, first started going on national farm tours several years ago to learn how beef goes from farm to plate.
“While Ohio’s beef farmers are busy caring for their cattle and working to produce safe and delicious beef, they count on the Ohio Beef Council to share information to consumers about beef, cattle and the cattle industry,” says Elizabeth Harsh, executive director of the Ohio Beef Council. “The council’s job is to bring farmers and consumers together through experiences that enhance communication and understanding.”
At one point, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants asked for similar tours that could involve more employees. The first local tour for the group hosted by the council took place in 2015, and included staff of the company’s restaurant The Barn at Rocky Fork Creek in Gahanna. Later that year, chefs visited C&H Livestock in Covington, an operation owned by Russ and Kathy Clark, and their daughter and son-in-law, Stacy and Randy Hollowell. The farm is focused on sustainable farming practices.
“We wanted the family to tell us about their operation and what they do, and hopefully that would get the restaurants’ chefs and servers charged up to talk to our guests about it,” says Peter Chapman, regional chef for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants.
From Farm to Plate
At C&H Livestock, the chefs learned how Stacy and Randy operate the farm and care for the cattle. They toured the feedlot and eventually picked a steer to have processed.
“It helps put a farmer face to the product,” says Stacy Hollowell. “It’s real people raising this beef.”
The steer, processed at The Ohio State University, was served at Cameron Mitchell restaurants The Pearl, Marcella’s and The Barn. Steak cuts went to The Barn, one of the company’s steakhouse concepts. Roast beef cuts were sent to The Pearl, where burgers are served. Secondary cuts, such as short ribs, long ribs and flank, were served at Marcella’s.
“Every burger they served at The Pearl for about a month came from this one steer,” Chapman says.
The chefs weren’t the only ones educated about beef raised and served right here in Ohio.
“The Hollowell family visited those three restaurants to talk to the servers, getting them charged up about who they were and what they’re all about,” Chapman says. “The servers were able to meet the family and put a face to someone producing local beef, then transfer that knowledge to the guests.”
According to Chapman, going on the tours and learning about how beef makes it from the field to his kitchen has been an eye-opening experience. Chefs and servers knowing the story behind the beef they serve helps set Cameron Mitchell Restaurants apart.
“I really didn’t know much about the industry at all before. Now I have a much better understanding of what ranchers do and what they are trying to overcome. The whole steer promotion was a stepping stone for me to teach my staff and guests,” he says.