Peter Karpinski, front left, and some of the key players bringing Urban Farmer Cleveland to life intently focus on rating the filets they just sampled. The blind tasting featured three rounds (filet, ribeye, New York strip) with samples from five national purveyors: Painted Hills, Creekstone Farms, Piedmontese from Montana Ranch, Niman Ranch and Brandt Beef.
The chefs—Michael Carr-Turnbough, corporate chef for Sage, and Brad Cecchi, the newly hired executive chef for Urban Farmer Cleveland—kept the blind tasting organized and handled all the cooking.
David Marsh, Sage’s senior v.p. of operations, watches the new chef at work.
The beef was brought out and labeled only by number, so the samplers could score it without bias.
Everyone got a healthy serving of the three cuts from each of the five ranches. (In other words, a lot of high quality and perfectly cooked beef was enjoyed by all.)
Nine of us, counting the two chefs who cooked, served and rated the beef, sat around a large dining room table sampling the steaks. Troy Christian, the g.m. who will open the new restaurant, and Tom Lix, the founder and c.e.o. of Cleveland Whiskey, sit to Karpinski’s left.
All the beef was scored on a scale of 1 to 5 on flavor, texture, mouth feel and appearance. At the conclusion, Carr-Turnbough and Cecchi gathered all the sheets and were going to compile the results to help identify the top candidates that would ultimately make the menu.
Urban Farmer Cleveland, a modern steakhouse as its described by Sage, also puts quite a focus on farm to table, with a large reliance on local artisanal producers. Cleveland Whiskey, made in Cleveland with a radically different and patent-pending aging process that reduces production time from years into days, is a prime example of that. Lix was at the tasting to introduce and help sell his product to the restaurant execs.