Stone, who trained under London’s legendary chef Marco Pierre White before becoming a television personality on TLC’s Take Home Chef and Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, is the only chef currently bringing the rare Australian steaks to North America.
He’s also the first to sell them there. “There are only a few world-class butcher shops in the world, and there’s never been one in Los Angeles,” Stone said during an interview at Bloomberg’s New York offices. Unlike other high-concept butcher shops that focus on whole animal or organic specimens, Stone’s philosophy is simpler: “We’re simply prioritizing the most delicious cuts in the world,” he said.
The butcher counter at Gwen
In pursuit of that goal, Stone and his team tasted 20 of the best grain-fed beefs to find a favourite. (He will also carry grass-fed varieties but considers grain-fed to be of premium quality.) The winner: Australian Blackmore Wagyu, a pure breed of cattle devised by the Victoria-based cattle farmer David Blackmore.
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If you’re not looking to live within striking distance of Victoria, you can get your taste of Blackmore beef at Gwen, Stone’s restaurant, where the menu includes such items as a 42-ounce (1.2kg) bone-in ribeye for two ($390, or R5600). Or you can buy it from Gwen’s butcher shop and prepare it in your oven or grill at home. Cuts range from Wagyu mince (R700 per kg) to ribeye (R3100 per kg) and fillet R5700 per kg!)
Among the chef’s tips for preparation: Season simply, with Maldon salt and, optionally, freshly cracked pepper; rotate the steak every few minutes for even, sous-vide-like cooking; and serve with nothing but a drizzle of olive oil. (The acidity is a welcome touch.)
You’ll be left with a steak that’s tender and buttery beyond compare. The flavour is unadulterated in a way that reminded me of biting into an heirloom tomato. “This is what steak is supposed to taste like,” I thought, bite after bite after bite.
One day, Stone hopes to make the steaks available for mail order in the U.S.—the demand, he says, would make it a profitable venture. But Blackmore’s production is still small and limited, so in-person orders in Los Angeles are the best course for now.
(Courtesy of Nikki Ekstein – Bloomberg News)