From Ranch to Kitchen: Rancher and Chef Collaborate

The journey to deliver high-quality and safe beef requires collaboration from pasture to plate. At each step of the process—from the beef farmers and ranchers who raise beef and adhere to Beef Quality Assurance standards to the chefs and restaurateurs who prepare beef in their restaurants, there is a strong commitment to delivering high-quality beef that consumers love. That’s why Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner., in partnership with Chef’s Roll, brought beef farmers and ranchers together with chefs to learn about each other’s segment of the beef business.   

Executive Chef Ryan Clark of Casino Del Sol in Tucson met with rancher Dean Fish, manager Santa Fe Ranch in Nogales, Arizona. In a day on the ranch, Chef Ryan learned about environmental stewardship, management of the land and water resources as well as proper cattle handling techniques to ensure animal safety. Likewise, Dean spent a day in the kitchen with Chef Ryan as he cooked and served his popular Cowboy Ribeye that he currently serves in his restaurant.

In addition to these Arizona beef-aficionados, Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. and Chef’s Roll will be featuring four additional beef ranchers and chefs from Oklahoma, Georgia, Idaho, and California. 

The stories and videos from the ranch and kitchen are featured on Chef’s Roll’s digital properties (see video here). Chef’s Roll is a global digital community that inspires culinary professionals through knowledge sharing with their 18,000 members and followers from 147 countries. They are chefs, wine professionals, mixologists and hospitality professionals. The Chef’s Roll team creates photo and video content to share with their members and social media followers as well as creating live events for chefs. 

Arizona Rancher Dean Fish (left) and Chef Ryan Clark (right)

We asked Chef Ryan and Dean to share a little more about their time spent together. We hope you enjoy hearing about their unique perspectives.

  • Chef Ryan: When did you realize you had a passion and skill for cooking?
    I started cooking in Tucson at a small boutique restaurant. Everything was from scratch and it really opened my eyes to the amount of work and passion that goes into preparing a meal. My first big promotion was at 17 when I took over as the Chef De Cuisine… and I never looked back.
  • Dean: When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career raising cattle and sharing about ranching?
    I have craved being a part of the beef industry and the western lifestyle since I can remember. I have always enjoyed being around cows and horses while learning more about them. I pursued all opportunities to get more knowledge in all aspects of cattle production and management. I now get to do it every day and realize that it is a great responsibility to produce a safe, wholesome, nutritious and tasty product while taking care of the land, wildlife and other resources.
  • What did you find most interesting in learning from each other?
    Chef Ryan: My favorite part of the tour was seeing how Dean interacted with the livestock daily. His relationship with them went far beyond what most would expect. You could tell from his words and actions that he not only respects the process but also loves telling the story. It is moments like these that will continue to push me to visit the ranchers and farmers that make our food possible.
    Dean: Chef Ryan is a world-class talent that has a passion and a flair I have rarely seen in any field. He is top notch at what he does and makes it look easy. His creativity in preparing the cuts we showcased was the most surprising part to a guy like me that uses salt, pepper and mesquite wood for everything. Chef Ryan was also an exceptionally good communicator and took the time to share his process and explain the steps to me.
  • Chef Ryan: What part of your visit to the ranch will you most likely share with customers, colleagues and friends?
    I think as a chef it’s more important than ever to visit our ranchers and farmers. You take back a different respect for food when you see the process firsthand. It helps refresh your outlook and food philosophy and find new inspiration. Every time I make a trip, I come back into the kitchen with new ideas and energy that helps create dishes that tell the story.
  • Dean: What part of your visit to the kitchen will you be most likely share with visitors to the ranch, colleagues and friends?
    The creativity was the biggest takeaway for me and encouraging people to try different flavors and preparation techniques.
  • In what ways can beef farmers and ranchers and chefs continue to work together?
    Chef Ryan: Collaborations are so important. Our guests love to know where the food comes from that they are eating. Having a beef farmer or rancher come to the restaurant for a special dinner and interact with a guest is an experience like none other. 
    Dean: I think anytime that producers can see the talent, work and effort it takes to showcase beef and encourage the consumer to choose beef is valuable. On the other side, helping chefs realize the work and care it takes to produce beef helps to create appreciation for the process. Ranchers assume beef just gets cooked and sold and chefs may assume beef just shows up in their restaurant. These connections are very valuable and I am a huge Chef Ryan fan!
  • What is your favorite beef meal (cut and preparation)?
    Chef Ryan: Anything braised.  I don’t want to say that quick cooking methods are easy but there is something about the process of an all day braise that you can really taste in a dish. Oxtails, Short Rib and Chuck Roast are a few of my favorites.
    Dean: Trick question here! I love all of the cuts. If I had to pick a favorite, I would have to say a bone-in Ribeye cooked over a wood fire would be my favorite. Followed closely by a marinated flank steak cooked the same way and eaten in a homemade flour tortilla!

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