The Artisan Beef Institute was established to advocate for and support any top-notch natural or organic rancher or butcher who employs superior animal husbandry and land management practices to create artisan, connoisseur quality beef.*>
A core objective is to help meat lovers look beyond simple labels such as USDA grade, “natural,” or “grass-fed” when purchasing beef. Instead, we help people discover and celebrate the little known secret that genuine artisan beef is very much like a fine wine, unique flavors and characteristics emerge from the influences of the breed, growing region, diet, husbandry and aging techniques, and the relative talents of those who help bring it to our tables.
We also reinforce the critical need for gentle handling at all times from farm to fork.
To achieve our goals we have developed an education platform with three key components. The first is a public series of events called “The Provenance of Beef™ (aka MeatCamp™).” These events combine an interactive expert panel discussion with a blind tasting of beef from up to six different artisan farms or producer groups. Seating up to 65 people, we host these educational dinners in cities across North America, with the inaugural event on August 11, 2008, in San Francisco in conjunction with the highly regarded Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.
The second is a home tasting kit, known as the Discover Beef Experience™ Artisan Steak Tasting™ sampler, which we offer to individual customers through our online marketplace, The Oliver Ranch Company® (www.oliverranch.com). This home tasting kit includes steaks from up to four artisan producers along with an instructional guide and other tips for hosting a private steak tasting.
The third, coming in summer 2010, is formal tasting and certification program for artisan producers.
Importantly, in all of our programs we provide our guests with a proprietary beef and steak tasting guide developed to help people describe the tasting experience and discover their individual preferred styles. Similar to (though less complicated than) the wine wheel, this framework and suggested descriptors give meat lovers a new language to use when discussing their individual likes and dislikes in texture, personality, impression, and overall experience.
The Artisan Beef Institute Tasting Guide was created in 2007 with the help of experts representing a wide range of disciplines and experiences, including the world’s first Master and Wine and Master Sommelier, a psycholinguist, an artisan butcher, and distinguished chefs. Those charter members include the following.
Burt Alper, Co-Founder, Catchword Branding, Linguist
Jacquelyn Buchanan, Direct of Culinary Programs, COPIA
Chris Carpenter, Winemaker for Cardinale, Lokoya, and La Jota wines
Greg Cole, Chef / Owner, Cole’s Chop House and Celadon Restaurants
Carl Cosack, Rancher, Naturally Raised Beef Advocate, and Dude Ranch Operator
Gilian Handelman, Wine Educator, Marketing Strategist
Barbara Lindblom, Winemaking Consultant
Marsha McBride, Executive Chef and Owner, Café Rouge
Jesus Mendez, Executive Chef, Cole’s Chop House
Ronn Wiegand, Master of Wine, Master Sommelier
Carrie Oliver, Founder & CEO, The Oliver Ranch Company & The Artisan Beef Institute
* Whether sold under our label or that of another brand, our ideal producer specializes in a single breed or crossbreed appropriate to the growing region, employs an all-vegetable (preferably all grass) diet, and can demonstrate gentle handling on the ranch and through the point of slaughter. We do not allow cattle that have been treated with growth hormones or preventative antibiotics. The beef must also be traceable from farm to fork.