Experience our Special October Menu and Celebrate American Lamb with us!
By Chris S. Nishiwaki
Farm-to-Table dining has evolved from a fad to a way of life for many American lamb ranchers because it heightens the locavore experience, going from feed, to farm, to fork.
Reed Anderson of Oregon’s Anderson Ranch grows the grass on which his sheep graze, raises the animals, processes them on-site, and carefully selects his customers based on his stringent demands for quality.
“You can taste the care and quality of Anderson Ranch lamb – they are great El Gaucho partners,” said Chad Mackay, El Gaucho President and COO.
Many American lamb ranchers are involved in every step of the process, like Anderson and his wife and business partner Robyn, up to the plate in front of guests at fine dining restaurants such as AQUA and El Gaucho.
“El Gaucho is a great local company,” Anderson said. “The thing I tell people is I don’t sell to everybody. I only sell to people who will treat the product right.”
The farm-to-table philosophy is no fad for the Andersons, now on its fifth generation of farming sustainably. Reed is a fourth generation sheep farmer. His sons Jake, 28, and Travis, 26, are now the fifth generation in the business.
Anderson Ranch is one of over 82,000 sheep operations in the country. Many of them are family owned and operated with the families intimately engaged in the entire process, ensuring quality and freshness for consumers.
Similar to the concept of “terroir” in wine, the quality of lamb reflects and adapts to its fertile surroundings. That is why the Anderson family’s farming practices ensure that their flock has the best of everything, and that their diet never includes hormones or grain. For the Andersons, watching grass grow is exciting stuff. It translates to happy animals and a superior product for diners. Anderson Ranch’s sheep graze on over 1,000 acres of their land providing plenty of nutrients year round and abundant space for them to roam. The Northwest’s notorious rainfall lends to the terroir that makes the local grass superior and abundant. The Willamette Valley grows up to 90 percent of the world’s grass seed.
“It is important for us to control and know what our sheep are eating,” Anderson said. “That’s why we insist on controlling the growth of the plant for the sheep’s diet.”
The Anderson Ranch flock drinks well, eats well and lives well. The family ensures a stress free environment by surrounding his sheep with guard dogs and guard llamas, rather than protecting them with restrictive fencing. This healthy living means lamb naturally contains many essential nutrients; it is an easy fit for healthy diets and is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12, niacin, zinc, selenium, iron and riboflavin.
The Andersons built their own facility last year to process their animals, allowing them to control the quality and timing of the process, catering to the needs of retailers and restaurants such as El Gaucho, and ultimately the consumer.
“We do a better job trimming,” Anderson says. “We are more conscious on the cutting specifications. I think it’s just because we have control of the product from conception to the plate.”
All of this expertise and care produces the highest quality lamb, which is why El Gaucho Restaurants all proudly serve only Anderson Ranch lamb.
“We want people to have a great experience with our product. When someone is having a 50th wedding anniversary we want to be a highlight of that event. El Gaucho has those same concerns in mind,” Anderson said.
Since opening our doors, our mission is simply to find the best for our patrons and guests to enjoy: no excuses and no compromise. This is why relationships with our key partners are paramount. We will not settle for anything less than the best, and our family of restaurants constantly works to bring you the finest the world has to offer. Bon appétit!