El Gaucho and Beef – A Legacy of Quality

This is part 1 in a 4-part series to detail our beef program and what makes it so special.  We start at the beginning – why since opening our doors, relationships with our partners are paramount, and we will not settle for anything less than the best.

El Gaucho founder Paul Mackay grilling a Certified Angus Beef steak in one of our exhibition-style kitchens

El Gaucho founder Paul Mackay grilling a Certified Angus Beef steak over charcoal in one of our exhibition-style kitchens

Since Paul Mackay opened El Gaucho in 1996 in Seattle, steak has been the centerpiece on our menu, and from the beginning, our sourcing philosophy has been to offer the best product for our guests.  You could say that comes with a little bit of pride, but also with a lot of experience; with over 40 years in the restaurant business, Mr. Mackay recalls that in the 1970s and 1980s, close to 1 in 8 steaks were sent back from customers, which certainly doesn’t lend itself to a quality eating experience.  Plus, with stats like that, you can’t keep your doors open for long.

When reopening El Gaucho Seattle in the mid-90s, Mr. Mackay had no interest in experiencing the unreliability he encountered earlier in his career, so he sought to partner with a company that could deliver a high-quality and consistent product; one he could hang his hat on and build a menu.

An El Gaucho Classic - Chateaubriand, carved tableside and served for 2.

An El Gaucho Classic – Chateaubriand, carved tableside and served for 2.

Since that first day, Mackay has served only Certified Angus Beef® brand steaks, becoming the first restaurant to offer the 28-day dry-aged* premium beef in the Pacific Northwest.

The Certified Angus Beef ® brand is made up of generations of farmers and ranchers who are dedicated to raising the best Angus beef. Inspired by their passion and family traditions, the brand is made possible through the American Angus Association®, with rancher members in every state including Washington and Oregon. Known for its exceptional flavor, tenderness and juiciness, the Certified Angus Beef ® brand is offered by the finest restaurants and retailers around the globe.  We’re in good company.

USDA Beef Grade Chart

USDA Beef Grade Chart

To fully understand why this is important, and what makes Certified Angus Beef ® special, we need to take a step back and look at how beef is graded.  The USDA created a grading scale to determine commodity beef as Prime, Choice, Select, or one of several lower grades (there are seven in total).  The USDA grades only on marbling, or fat content, and maturity. Even in the commodity world, only the top 3% of meat produced is considered good enough to receive the USDA Prime grade.

CAB Grading ChartCertified Angus Beef ® takes it a step further by adding 10 more stringent quality specifications, which is a premium differential from the USDA standards.  The end result ensures a more reliable product, including tenderness, juiciness, and flavor, to earn the brand’s mark. Plus, by purchasing the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, you’re helping support a network of family farmers committed to raising high-quality beef. Quite simply, higher graded beef receives a premium price, which is why farmers and ranchers work hard to produce a premium product.

When you dine at El Gaucho, you are receiving not only an exceptional product, but one that has been 28-day dry-aged* and grilled over live fuel and charcoal in our open-exhibition style kitchens. It’s the hardest way to cook a steak, but is hands-down the best, and we can assure you that our steak is in expert hands with our chefs, who are true grill-masters.

Our Chefs are expert grillers and cooking over charcoal

Our Chefs are expert grillers and cooking over charcoal

In Part 2 of our series, we’ll share with you how Mr. Mackay helped to create the Certified Angus Beef® Prime program – the highest level of steak in the country.

*To learn more about the significance of dry-aging, and why El Gaucho chooses this method, click here)

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