Quartet showcasing beef in not-so-typical manner

When it comes to innovation, beef isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind.

But for the past three years, the Certified Angus Beef ® brand has made it a point to recognize and honor those chefs who put a premium on pushing beyond the ordinary when it comes to their bovine-centric dishes. That is, dishes that veer from the normal ways beef is typically used. Unique cuts, innovative presentations or preparation methods—anything new and different that may change the way people think about beef on the plate.

This year’s list of finalists includes a pair of Texas barbecue-inspired Chicago natives with a clientele willing to try unique and usual dishes, a chef in Disney Springs who makes new and different cuts approachable, a farmer/chef/larder master literally changing the way beef is consumed with his wizardly use of ancient molds, and a Latin-centric chef in South Florida giving a mouthpiece of iconic, yet little-known, dishes from her heritage.

This year’s finalists are:

Jeremy Umansky, Larder, Cleveland – Three-day Pastrami

Umansky uses koji mold as an aging accelerant on his brisket, turning a two-week process into one of just 36 hours, resulting in some of the most rich, robust pastrami in the city.

Greg and Kristina Gaardbo and their Scorpion King steaks

Greg and Kristina Gaardbo, Chicago Culinary Kitchen, Chicago – Scorpion King

Gaardbo’s presentation of a traditional, 40-oz. tomahawk is both eye appealing and practical. The presentation is just this: a butterflied tomahawk with the rib protruding upward to give the plated product the appeance of a scorpion, upping the impressiveness on the plate while halving the cook time of the massive hunk of meat in the kitchen.

Venoy Rogers, B Resort, Orlando – Shank Tacos

This sharable, braised dish scores points for both presentation and unique application of an oft-forgotten cut, and gives a nice counterpoint to Rogers’ Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime-heavy menu at his Disney Springs restaurant.

Carla DiLorenzo, Los Tanitos, Miami – Sirloin Flap Roulade

In a world where skirt steak is king, DiLorenzo put her beef education to work, turning her attention to the alternative sirloin flap to not only lower her cost, but also to give her Latin guests a different look at a classic, Argentinian dish.

The winner will be announced at the brand’s Annual Conference, held in Asheville, N.C., Sept. 23-25.

Here’s a look at the previous finalists, and winners, of the award:

2018: Simon Brown, Seafood R’evolution, Ridgeland – Short Rib Tomahawk

Brown’s short rib tomahawk starts with a Certified Angus Beef ® brand three-bone rib, which he hand cuts, trims and rolls to resemble the Frenched tomahawk steak. Chef Brown slow cooks the beef with his signature sauce for a wintertime menu favorite.

Other finalists:

Glenn Wheeler, Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops, Omaha – The Big Spence Burger

Matt Mytro, Flour, Cleveland – Mock Tender Ramen

Paul Friedman, Peli Peli, Houston – Floating Tenderloin Kabob


2017: Brett Sawyer, The Plum, Cleveland – Crispy Beef Belly 

Sawyer’s crispy beef belly starts with a whole navel—taken from the short plate—and follows a multiple-day process involving a quick cure-braise-sear method that gives it a delightful, crispy finish to complement that rich, beefy goodness.


Other finalists:

Dave Kocab, Trentina, Cleveland – Shin in a Shirt (puff pastry-wrappd beef shank)

Elise Wiggins, Cattivella, Denver – In-house Dry Aging

John Lewis, John Lewis BBQ, Charleston – Texas-style Brisket in the Carolinas

Dave Kocab and Matt Mytro, Cleveland – Unique Cuts Collaboration Dinner