Six years ago, when I first read about the horror of confined feed lot beef in the Omnivore's Dilemma, my first instinct as a chef and empathetic human being was to either drop it from the menu or find a source for humanly treated cows, raised on grass pasture, as close to Season To Taste as possible. Initially, I reached out to beef farmers at my local farmer's markets and also learned of Chestnut Farms meat CSA. The problem with these sources is that they had a hard time keeping up with our demand during busy season. As fate would have it, Andy Carbone a neighbor of mine heard about my search for beef and at the time was exploring the possibility of starting a company that focuses on sourcing from a network of local farmers that raise grass fed "happy" (as I like to call it) cows. We met and after the initial discussion realized that his connections with local beef farmers, and my high level of demand meshed perfectly and I became his first customer.
Initially Andy sourced Double J Farm's beef, raised by Jim Talby. Jim, a former dairy farmer, who after many years of dealing with the helpless dairy market, began raising an heirloom breed of cows known as the Roto-Devon, with a grant from the USDA. Jim's heard is relatively small, so after the initial six months we temporarily exhausted his supply. Fortunately, Andy brought a new farmer on-line, Gus Hanson. He is our current farmer and going forward we will be rotating between Gus, Jim and a few other new farmers that Andy is working on.
On a side note, The Roto-Devon cow is from breeding line that almost ended, due to that fact that the cow is bread to mature and fatten on a grass diet and the use of corn made the cows sick. A resourceful farmer in New Zealand resuscitated the line and started selling it to farmers like Jim Talby.
We love the fact that we know the names, and have shaken the hand of the farmers that are raising the cows for our beef. We think that all of our customer should do the same, hence the reason for,
At The Table With...Gus Hanson and Andy Carbone. For this dinner not only will we feature
Gus Hanson's beef, Andy is also able to source Nantucket Bay Scallops and local produce. The menu is written and will be posted momentarily.
I'm heading out to the farm this Friday and will be updating the blog with pictures and a few words. There are only six spots left so please give us a call for a reservation/gift certificate.