I am a sucker for great food so when Drovers Editor Greg Henderson called and asked, “Would you have some time to fly up to Cleveland and visit CAB’s new Culinary Center? They’ll feed you well,” I was elated.
Yeah, I was packing before I hung up the phone. The plan was to visit some of Cleveland’s hottest restaurants the first night in town and then bus on down to Wooster to look at the Center and dine on the finest dishes that a flock of fine chefs could put together.
I packed a suit, a fork and a wine glass and headed out to MCI. I was fed and fascinated. I’ve been in hundreds of kitchens run by some of the top chefs in the country. This one was in the top 10. I’ve had some incredible meals at some legendary joints. The dinner in Wooster was also in the top 10.
And they took the time to teach me a little bit about meat cutting.
The spark plug behind this extravaganza was CAB chef Michael Ollier. He talked, demonstrated, explained and helped feed a room full of editors from all over the country – trade magazines, ritzy ‘foodie’ magazines, newspaper people – every part of the media was present. All of us dined on the most drool-worthy Certified Angus Beef dishes.
I wanted to spend more time with chef Ollier, though, and talk with him about why CAB decided to build such a showplace and what he wanted to accomplish now that he had one of the most marvelous toys any foodie could have.
It took some time. His job requires that he travel. A lot. I finally got him to sit still long enough to answer a few questions. When I checked back to get a few of the photos you’ll see in the interview, he had to pass the request along to someone else. Ollier was in Ireland. I’m not sure if he was just flying to LaGuardia and forgot to deplane or that was his intended destination. I am sure he’s standing in some Irish kitchen, though, teaching a few of the locals how to prepare beef.
Q. Michael, Certified Angus Beef’s new Education & Culinary Center, built next to your headquarters in Wooster, is an impressive ‘kitchen’ and showroom. Why did CAB decide to invest in such a massive undertaking?
A. Our connection to our ranchers, and our foodservice and retail partners, is increasingly important. It was the vision of Brent Eichar, Senior Vice President of Operations for the brand, to create a facility in which we can strengthen that connection by providing the best interactive and innovative training opportunities for our partners, and thereby growing their success with our brand.