Why Our Burger is Second to None, and That’s No Bull
Everybody knows that Duke’s is the place to go for seafood. Whether you’re craving fresh, Wild Salmon or a big bowl of homemade clam chowder, Duke’s is your best bet.
But did you know that Duke’s is also a destination for burger lovers?
My passion for quality ingredients extends beyond seafood to include the best burgers. If we serve it, that means:
- It was grown/raised without chemicals, hormones or antibiotics
- It was sustainably managed
- It’s grass-fed and high in omega-3’s
Our burger ranks high on all of these requirements. As with all of our products, I searched high and low for the finest burger in the market, and my journey took me all the way to Australia.
I am committed to providing the finest ingredients to my customers, focusing as much as possible on local producers with sustainable practices. When it came to burgers, I insisted on sourcing exclusively grass-fed cattle.
But we had a tough time in our local markets. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get the quality we demanded consistently or in a high volume. It also proved difficult to build a trusting relationship with any one producer, which is a major part of how I create lasting partnerships with Duke’s providers. Finally, as much as it pained me to look elsewhere, we had no choice.
I contacted some friends at Food Services of America to give me a hand, and they put me in touch with their own trusted meat company, Ameristar Meats.
Operated by Tim Loveall, Ameristar is a custom cutting and processing company, and Tim was kind enough to offer his assistance in my search.
Gradually, as we looked deeper into the global beef industry, we noticed how often Australia kept popping up. The first thing that caught my eye was that Australia has never – not once – had an outbreak of E. coli bacteria! The U.S, meanwhile, had 11 cases of E. coli in 2016, spread through 5 states resulting in 7 hospitalizations. (source) And when I learned that nearly 100% of the beef coming out of Australia is grass-fed, I was sold. Additionally, because of the amount of beef shipped regularly from Australia, it costs less in fuel per pound to ship burger from Australia than to ship from Spokane to Tacoma. This means Duke’s is leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
There are a number of good reasons for choosing grass-fed beef over grain-fed, and they align with the high standards that we at Duke’s Chowder House hold all of our ingredients to.
•It’s Better for Cattle
Grass grazing is a much more humane way to raise cattle. First and foremost, it is in line with their evolutionary history; it’s how cows eat! Foraging for food over wide expanses of grassland is how cattle have been feeding themselves for thousands of years. In addition, farmers that choose grass-feeding practices are also typically against giving their cattle growth hormones and unnecessary antibiotics. These chemicals remain in the beef and are passed on to the customer – not exactly what I call wholesome and nutritious. Which leads to my next point …
•It’s Better for Humans
Grass-fed beef contains high levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and E, as well as antioxidants. These are essential nutrients that can lower your risk of diabetes, reduce cholesterol and lower the danger of cardiovascular disease. And just as importantly, it simply tastes great!
•It’s Better for the Environment
Farming cattle on a diet of naturally growing grasses significantly lowers fossil fuel consumption and the workload of the farm! Grass-feeding creates a closed loop system that is self-sustaining; the cattle fertilizes the grassland, which maintains topsoil and moisture levels, which results in better growing grass, which feeds the cattle more effectively. Grazed grasslands also remove CO2 from the atmosphere more effectively than forested or ungrazed land.
Choosing grass-fed beef just makes sense to me, like choosing Wild Alaskan Salmon. Supporting sustainable practices while providing the highest quality ingredients to my customers is what’s most important to me.
How is it that Australia can pull off a nearly 100% grass-fed beef market while we struggle to find the same product available in the United States?
The simple answer lies in the weather. In America, we have cold winters that freeze much of the country for months, including our largest grazing areas. This means that having grass to feed your cattle year-round is a time and labor-intensive goal.
Meanwhile, Australia has mild temperatures nearly year-round. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of acres of grassland in Australia that is not useful for much other than grazing. This means land is relatively cheap and cattle operations are large! When that happens, the price of everything else drops, including the price of the beef itself.
While I try my best to support local markets, when it’s not possible, I research to find the best alternative. Australia is a sustainable market that is cost-effective and reliable and I am proud to offer it to my customers at Duke’s.
Like A Bull in A … Chowder House?
When we first began serving premium Australian grass-fed beef, I had to find a way to spread the word. Those who know me know that I’m not one to shy away from “extremely creative” ideas that will attract attention and get people excited. So, when my advertising guy suggested having a real live bull to dinner as a promotion for our steaks & burgers, I jumped in with both feet!
We decided to do a sneaky parody of the recognizable Merrill Lynch advertisements that were circulating at the time, poking fun at my background as a Wall Street stockbroker. I was expected to sit calmly and quietly, wearing a tuxedo and enjoying my dinner while a two-ton bull sat 6 inches away from me. ‘No problem,’ I thought, until my marketing director informed me that bulls are the #1 cause of death among farmers!
That was the most exhilarating photo shoot I’ve ever experienced. The bull barely fit in the door at our Duke’s Bellevue location, and we had to use a tablecloth as a napkin for the big guy! This doubled as a handy disguise for the chain around his neck, held on one end by the trainer sitting off-camera.
Full disclosure: I was more than a bit terrified.
However, the shoot went off without a hitch, and the bull left the restaurant without so much as knocking over a chair. It remains one of the most memorable advertising tricks I’ve ever pulled.
Duke’s Chowder house is more than just great seafood. Our delicious, grass-fed Australian burgers are sure to impress any burger aficionado. We prepare them to your specifications and feel good about serving them.
Our burgers are second to none, and that’s no bull. Book a reservation at one of our six locations and taste the difference a natural diet makes to your burger.