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Producing high quality steak fit for kings of the corporate world

/ 02:31 AM September 13, 2015
MAYURA rib cap nigiri sushi by Chef Mark Tan of Allium

MAYURA rib cap nigiri sushi by Chef Mark Tan of Allium

How do you compete in the cutting-edge world of producing top quality steaks? By giving your cattle the luxurious life!

You won’t believe the amount of effort that goes into making that perfect steak. To win over the sophisticated steak lover, the game is no longer just about cooking the meat perfectly.

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The process runs from pasture to plate, with great weight given to pedigree.

So the making of a great steak does not start only when the cow is born, but much consideration is given to who its ancestors are and where they are from. Like noblemen or thoroughbreds, bloodlines and pedigree are considered in the production of quality beef.

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There are many exceptional breeds around the world. Aside from US Angus, which we are familiar with, the American Cowboy (www.americancowboy.com) also lists Hereford, originally imported from Herefordshire, England; Gelbvieh, one of the oldest German cattle breeds; Limousin, native to the old provinces of Limousin and Marche in central France; and Simmental, developed in the Swiss Canton of Berne, as some of the top cattle in the world.

And then there’s the incomparable Wagyu: Japanese cattle known for their intense marbling and high percentage of unsaturated fat, attributed to their sedentary lifestyle.

Australian Wagyu

Scott de Bruin, owner of Mayura Station in South Australia, which supplies the steak of Burnt Ends in Singapore and 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong, among other first-rate restaurants around Asia, Australia, and Dubai, shares that part of his journey in creating very competitive steak involves finding what in his opinion is the best cattle, i.e., the cattle that will give him steak with a “wow” factor.

His father Adrian earlier offered Mayura station homestead cattle. But when he tried Wagyu on a trip to Japan, he was immediately drawn to it and saw the opportunity to bring in luxury meat to the Australian market.

The de Bruins then purchased cattle from Shogo Takeda, a recognized name in the world of Wagyu.

The Takeda family was the first family to introduce Wagyu to Hokkaido and they have been breeding Japanese Black Wagyu for over 50 years.

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In 1988, de Bruin imported Takeda’s cattle and Mayura became home to some of Australia’s first full-blood black-haired Wagyu.

Almost 10 years later, in 1997, the South Australia Mayura Station full-blood Wagyu herd was established with the purchase of 29 elite 100-percent black-haired Wagyu cattle, comprised of 13 distinct bloodlines representing the best aspects of the three major strains of black-haired Wagyu (Shimane, Tottori and Tajima).

De Bruin is particularly proud that Mayura beef is sourced from only one breed of cattle.

“Other farms (in Australia) have cattle that are from different regions and breeds, but with Mayura, we have only one breed from one region. And we also only use one production system,” he shares.

ALLIUM’S Mayura steak tartare mixed with oysters

ALLIUM’S Mayura steak tartare mixed with oysters

Piccaninnie Ponds

You would think that this Wagyu could not get any better. But two more major things have contributed to Mayura Wagyu’s distinctive steak.

First is the almost magical location of the farm , which, de Bruin recalls, was actually the first farm in South Australia, founded in 1845. The historic ‘Mayura Station,’ one of the first pastoral leases located in the Piccaninnie Ponds in the Limestone Coast, is breathtaking and picturesque.

But here’s what’s magical and special about it: when it rains, de Bruin explains, the water goes to the topsoil but seeps onto limestone which filters the water that eventually drains itself into underground caves. Now how many farms can boast of limestone in their midst?

The water for Mayura cattle come from these caves. Talk about having the best mineral water! It’s like Aqua Panna or Evian for cows.

But the cattle’s luxe living doesn’t end with the superb fountain. They are also fed a special diet comprised of grains grown on the farm and a secret recipe personally made by de Bruin—first out of necessity then later because of insistent public demand.

And you’ll never believe his secret ingredient … Chocolate!

“When I imported the cattle, the Japanese said that I feed the cows a particular mix. But one ingredient was at the time available only in Queensland, which was too far for me. So I dissected the mix and made my own brew that included chocolate,” he recalls.

Is there a particular brand of chocolate? I asked.

In fact there is.

Because he has to feed a herd of 29, de Bruin made an arrangement to get the rejects of Cadbury.

So Mayura cattle not only enjoy exceptionally mineral-rich water, they are also blessed with a most enviable diet of Cadbury chocolates!

Later, the required mixture by the Japanese became available in South Australia so de Bruin used it, thinking it would be best to stick to protocol, now that the mix was available. But no.

The regular customers at restaurants using Cadbury-fed Mayura beef started complaining, saying the steak tasted different and thinking they were being short-changed by the restaurant.

So the makeshift mix had to be returned and made permanent. Cadbury chocolate is now on the cattle’s diet for good. What lucky cows—destined for the sweet life!

ALLIUM’S Chef Mark Tan (left) with Scott de Bruin, owner of Mayura Station in Australia.

ALLIUM’S Chef Mark Tan (left) with Scott de Bruin, owner of Mayura Station in Australia.

Cooking steak

Aside from the special diet, de Bruin just makes sure that the cattle don’t grow up too fast as this will result in a courser texture for the steak.

But beyond that, it’s the chef’s turn to make sure that you have your perfect steak.

De Bruin was all praises for Roxanne Lee of Artisan Cellars, which distributes the steak in the Philippines.

“She cooks our steaks perfectly,” he observes, after dining at The Cellar Door, the dining space of Artisan Cellars & Fine Foods, which distributes Mayura steaks in the Philippines.

“But it’s not too complicated,” de Bruin stresses.

Just make sure that the steak is already at room temperature before it hits the grill. Use only salt, preferably Kosher. You can add the pepper later.

Then after taking it off the grill, let it rest wrapped in aluminum foil for the same amount of time that you spent cooking it.

There’s your recipe for the perfect steak. Mayura, of course.

Mayura steak is available at The Cellar Door, Artisan Cellars & Fine Foods, Inc. 2276 Narra Building, Pasong Tamo Ext., Makati. For orders, call +632 5217392 or +63920-9218870.

Mayura is also carried by Hyatt at the City of Dreams, The Fireplace at New World Manila Bay Hotel, Antonio’s Fine DIning in Tagaytay, Prime 101 on Pasong Tamo, Lemuria in Horseshoe Village and Allium in Legazpi Village, Makati. If you dine at Allium, ask Chef Mark Tan for the superb degustation he served Mr. Scott de Bruin.

More on Chef Mark Tan’s menu at Allium using Mayura Wagyu in margauxsalcedo.com. Follow the author @margauxsalcedo on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

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TAGS: Australia, cattle, dining, food, Mayura Station, steak, Wagyu
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