“Just wait until I get you in my house,” North Dakota restaurateur Dale Zimmerman teased local rancher, Chad Ellingson. I was sitting in the back seat of Chad’s Chevy truck. Flanked to my left and right were Zimmerman’s chefs, Alan and Dusty.
“Here?” I heard one of the guys ask, followed by brief hesitation. Chad had beckoned them outside the truck. Chef shoes touched tall grass, and they met the gaze of a three-year-old Angus bull. Masculine and stout, the bull paid no mind to the company in his pasture.
“This was my first time getting to see the beginning of what I love to do, which is cooking,” Chef Alan said. “What I saw and heard makes me more excited to continue my passion.”
Passion is a quality chefs and ranchers share.
Of course it may present itself in different ways, but when it comes to long hours and late nights, traditions and legacy, commitment and follow-through, these guys speak the same language.
“As a chef, you get a real appreciation for what you’re doing and the food you’re cooking,” Dusty said.
Chad added that perhaps most restaurant patrons don’t think about the care and concern taken at the ranch, and how it enhances the final eating experience at restaurants.
Twenty-three miles. That’s the difference between this rancher and these chefs. Twenty-three miles separates pasture and professional kitchen, yet it’s rare for these separate ends of the same beef spectrum to meet in the middle. They shoulder their own responsibilities with precision and pride, confident the other guys — and everyone between — will uphold his end of the table.
“To come out to the ranch and see all that happens before it gets to my place, the care and the steps, it makes you proud,” Chef Alan said.
And Chad experienced that same level of pride when Zimmerman’s team served him a Certified Angus Beef ® brand steak at Peacock Alley, and later at 40 Steak and Seafood. It was Dale’s turn to showcase great beef, and he wanted the rancher to get a feel for life in a restaurant.
At Peacock Alley, Chef Dusty offered a lesson in grilling. Over at 40 Steak and Seafood, Chef Alan took the rancher into the dry aging cooler to cut a steak.
“It’s just like ranching,” Chad said of the experience, “very labor intensive. These guys put in long, hard hours, too.”
With a cowboy hat atop his head, Chad served plates of tender steaks to waiting customers. He answered beef questions, dispelled rumors — it was enough to suggest he could take a second job if only he had the time.
For steakhouse customers, it was an opportunity to connect with a rancher and another world not far from town, a place that keeps them and their eating experiences in mind each and every day.
Learn more about Who We Are, and be sure to read the first installment of this story by Certified Angus Beef staffer, Laura Conaway: A Tale of Two Chefs, A Rancher and A Steakhouse or Two.