The Seattle-based, direct-to-consumer meat purveyor has a meaningful mission: “To create an alternative to the current meat commodity system, and to create a meaningful connection between the farmer and the customer, so people can know and appreciate exactly where their food comes from.”
That approach made a lot of sense to Stowell: “I really appreciate their philosophy of truth and ethics in beef sourcing,” said Stowell, founder and CEO of Ethan Stowell Restaurants. “They work with an outstanding collection of farmers and their quality is consistently superb and a great value.”
A spot in the starting lineup at the Hit It Here Cafe at T-Mobile Park was the first place Stowell featured this unique product. Stowell has been a consulting chef for the Seattle Mariners food service team for a number of years, and the Crowd Cow burger has been a fan favorite this season.
The best practices used by producers in the Crowd Cow quiver certainly are part of its feel-good appeal, but how does the meat taste?
Addam Buzzalini, executive chef for Ethan Stowell Restaurants, said the higher fat content and marbling brings out a much more pronounced beef flavor. “Especially when you move up to the Wagyu, it is extremely rich and decadent.”
Crowd Cow — named GeekWire’s 2018 Startup of the Year — is currently working with more than 100 producers of beef, pork and poultry across the country. Its model is based on selling directly to consumers. When those consumers happen to be high-profile chefs and buzz-worthy restaurants like The Silver Bough, that helps give the emerging brand visibility so they can share their story with a wider audience.
“We building a new supply chain by working with the top 1% of this nation’s craft meat producers,” said Joe Heitzeberg, who founded Crowd Cow with Ethan Lowry four years ago. The company now employs 30 people, and counts Joe Montana and Ashton Kutcher among its major investors. “People are looking for alternatives to the industrial beef machine, and we’re all about letting consumers get to know the farmers who are using best practices.”
Producer profiles, complete with beautifully shot video, are an integral part of the Crowd Cow website. Hutterian Farm is the go-to source for Stowell’s restaurants. Owner Ed Gross focuses on growing a healthy and docile herd of 100% Angus cattle using a unique blend of grass and grain-feeding, and never using antibiotics or growth hormones. The cows graze on lush green pastures, and are finished with peas and corn that are grown using the no-till planting method.
The beef from Eastern Washington is showcased on the menus at Downtown’s Cortina and Goldfinch Tavern in Four Seasons Seattle, Tavolàta in Belltown, Red Cow and Tavolàta on Capitol Hill, and Bramling Cross in the Ballard neighborhood.
Diners have been impressed. “We’ve had nothing but rave reviews from guests,” said Buzzalini, adding that chefs are excited to work with additional cuts of beef as the program grows.
Speaking of growth, Heitzeberg makes no bones about Crowd Cow’s aspiration to take its mission to an even larger audience: “We’d like to go global.”
And in the meantime, the company is all about growing its subscription base, and touting its holiday offerings. “We’re talking about the best turkey you’ve ever tasted,” Heitzeberg said.
Explore Crowd Cow’s lineup of recipes, including that classic roast turkey.