I've worked in the cattle industry all of my life. From pounding posts and cleaning ditches in high school on my family's ranch to now working with a group of ranchers and farmers to produce the best grass-finished and 'granola' grain-finished natural beef that I know of.
I got started selling my beef directly to discriminating chefs, home-chefs, and gift-givers after a visit to my family's 100-year old ranch about 12 years ago by a hunter from New York City. We have a small elk and deer hunting business on the ranch. We were raising and finishing our own beef much as we've always done it: without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics, finishing the cattle on locally-raised grasses and grains and then carefully aging the cuts. Hunters and their friends come to our ranch from all over the world in the fall to hunt, from places like Los Angeles and New York and London. By and large they come with an understanding of what makes great food.
During the week when the hunter was on the ranch, we served beef for most dinners in what we call the 'Cook House.' Towards the end of the week, the hunter took me aside and said, "Derek, I eat all over New York - Luger's, Ruth's Chris, Spark's - and this is the best beef I've ever eaten. I want you to do something for me. Figure out how to send some of your steaks from me over the upcoming holidays to a list of clients I'm going to send to you."
Now I knew something about producing great beef, but not about sending it via Fedex. So I went to the local hardware store, bought some coolers and dry ice, and, working with my local butcher, sent out about 20 packages that holiday season. The steaks were a big hit as some of the 20 clients called me and asked me to send steaks to some of their friends. It was then that I thought maybe I had something special and should work at bringing my beef directly to restaurants, grocery stores and 'foodies'.
That was in 1999. Since then I've probably done over 100 cuttings with chefs and consumers around the country-almost without fail my beef gets very strong reviews.
To make sure I have a year-round supply, I have organized a small group of like-minded natural beef ranchers who all follow the same production standards to make exceptionally good-eating beef. We finish the beef in two ways: entirely on grass or on a mixture of grass and grain and corn. Each way yields a different flavor profile and fat content. Read more about each finish method here:
Grass Fed Grain Fed
If you are a wholesaler, retailer, home-chef, chef or just someone who loves great beef, contact me. I'd love to visit with you about what you do and what I do and how great beef, well, makes life better. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org; my cell phone is (406) 698-1923.
Derek F. Kampfe
Great Northern Cattle Co.