|The Man Behind The Steaks...|
The Man Behind the Beef...
Article written by freelance journalist and Brother Sebastian's employee Amy Goldyn
We at Brother Sebastian’s Steak House and Winery hear the same question repeated several times every day: Why are your steaks so good?
The short answer is simple, really. We insist on quality. Getting to the short answer is a bit more complicated and involves ensuring that quality is our focus from the time the beef enters our restaurant until our guests take the first bites of their steaks.
Step One: Buy Quality Meat
As the man in charge of purchasing all of Brother Sebastian’s beef, kitchen manager Jeff Isenberger accepts only the finest Choice beef available. With more than two decades of experience working with food vendors, Isenberger and Brother Sebastian’s owner Loren Koch have developed finely tuned relationships with our beef vendors, accepting only the finest quality product. This is the first step to bringing mouth-watering steaks to your table.
“Number one to start with, you have to buy a good piece of meat,” Isenberger says. “It’s got to have good marbling, and that’s why we buy Choice beef. It used to be that Choice was Choice. Now there are grades of Choice, and we buy the premium grades. Meat that isn’t as good quality as we buy won’t be as tender, it won’t be as flavorful.”
The aging of beef, which tenderizes it, is also an important part of purchasing great steaks. A steak is aged perfectly twenty-one days after the day of processing. Isenberger checks the process date on every loin we order so that our steaks are aged perfectly when we serve them.
Step Two: Hand Cut Steaks With Precision
Every morning, before the restaurant opens, Isenberger can be found cutting steaks at the long, stainless steel prep table at the back of Brother Sebastian’s kitchen. Each steak and piece of prime rib at Brother Sebastian’s is hand cut, usually by Isenberger. This is the second step to assuring that our steaks are “so good.”
“You have to cut meat correctly,” Isenberger says. “The trim is important, trimming it correctly. You don’t want to cut against the grain. And if you start cutting crooked, you’re going to have an undesirable steak.
“On our top sirloins and tenderloins, we trim all the fat off and rely on the marbling for flavor,” Isenberger says. “And we don’t charge the customer for the fat that we trim off. If you order a six-ounce steak, you get six ounces or more of pure meat. When I cut steaks, I’d rather be a quarter of an ounce heavy than a quarter of an ounce light. Customers are paying what they’re paying, and I’d rather give them more than less.”
Isenberger cuts filets of varied thickness — thinner filets from the wider part of the tenderloin — thus eliminating the need to butterfly filets ordered medium well or well done. Brother Sebastian’s does not butterfly filets unless requested by the guest.
Although Isenberger tries to use as much of a beef loin as possible, he refuses to serve cuts he considers substandard. Guests at Brother Sebastian’s can be assured they will receive top-quality beef, for example in dishes such as our beef stroganoff, which contains cuts of prime rib, usually ends or pieces that were cut too light to serve as a Queen cut.
“No steak goes out of the kitchen that I would not serve to myself or my family. That’s my guideline,” Isenberger says. “If a steak has a little gristle in it, I ask myself if I would eat it. If it’s not acceptable to me, then it’s not acceptable to our customers.”
Kitchen Manager Jeff Isenberger
Step Three: Cook Steaks Expertly
Isenberger stresses that he is not the star of Brother Sebastian’s kitchen.
“Without everyone else in the kitchen doing their job, I’m nothing,” he says. “I couldn’t do without each and every one of them. It’s a team effort, and without everyone holding up their end of the line, the food couldn’t get to the tables. We all need help sometimes, and we all have to work together.”
As for cooking Brother Sebastian’s steaks, Isenberger’s experience has taught him to cook every steak perfectly, even with up to 60 steaks on his grill at one time on a very busy night.
“No steak should come back to the kitchen,” Isenberger says. “Guests are paying their money, and they deserve their steak the way they ordered it. ”
Although Brother Sebastian’s steaks are cooked true to the temperature ordered by guests, those ordering their steaks rare need not expect a cold cut of beef.
“A steak can be raw, but it can still be warm,” Isenberger says. “I can give you a steak that is very rare but warm all the way through. A medium-rare steak can be warm throughout, too.”
Isenberger’s 18 years of experience cooking steaks have taught him how to do this. The key, he says, is to put the steak over very low heat on a certain spot on the broiler for a specific amount of time. This allows the beef to absorb heat without actually cooking.
Isenberger also knows how to prepare perfect prime rib, one of our most popular menu items. Years ago, he and the kitchen staff fine tuned their formula for slow cooking prime rib, which has become one of Brother Sebastian’s closely guarded secrets. Because of our method of slow cooking, guests can always order rare to medium-rare prime rib — even if they want an end cut. Moreover, although our menu lists 8-ounce and 12-ounce cuts of prime rib, Isenberger invites guests with bigger appetites to order as large a cut of prime rib as they want. He will gladly cut 16- and 20-ounce pieces of prime rib.
The Secret of Our Success: Our Guests
Brother Sebastian’s mission is to satisfy every guest’s desire, from the perfect bottle of wine to, yes, the perfect steak. Isenberger and the kitchen staff will do everything they can to accommodate guests, whether that means substituting side items to satisfy special diets or preparing separate filets on a Chateaubriand for a couple who like their beef prepared at different temperatures. At Brother Sebastian’s, we understand that our guests truly are the secret to our success.
Click Here for our steak cooking reference...