Executive Chef Jason Stoller Smith conversing with rancher Keith Nantz
Timberline Lodge, OR: Historic Timberline Lodge and Ski Area has partnered with ranchers Keith Nantz and Rory Wilson of Deschutes River Beef by purchasing 52 head of cattle for the lodge’s proprietary beef program. “Timberline is not only proud of its skiing and cultural heritage, it’s proud of its local culinary heritage as well,” states Timberline’s Area Operator Jeff Kohnstamm, “Early in the 1980s, Timberline championed ‘The Oregon Bounty,’ showcasing and utilizing all that our great region has to offer in terms of fresh local products. As the region’s food reputation has grown, this is a common and even an expected quality of Northwest cuisine. We are very excited to launch a beef program working with ranchers who have set the standard for high quality natural beef.” The cows are born and raised humanely without growth hormones in Maupin, OR, just 45 minutes east of where Timberline Lodge sits on Mt Hood. They graze on pasture, carry out natural behaviors, and live without undue stress or cruel treatment. Deschutes River Beef recognizes the importance of environmental stewardship, and uses responsible farming practices to protect the land for future generations.
The ranchers share Timberline’s ideals in terms of sustainability and quality. The cows graze on a precise mix of grasses that is not only better for the animal but for the soil as well. Deschutes River Beef cows have a symbiotic relationship with their pasture. It keeps them healthy, thereby eliminating the need for antibiotics in their feed lot. They return the favor by fertilizing the pasture’s organic matter and reducing the need for chemicals and fertilizers. The cows are finished on barley grown in the area, which promotes better flavor and marbling.
Timberline completes the circle by butchering in-house. With respect to the animals, full utilization is the goal. After dry aging for 21 days, lodge meat cutters will handcraft a variety of thick cut steaks and slow cooked roasts for service in the Cascade Dining Room. The Mt. Hood Brewing Co. will feature proprietary beef burgers and braised cuts will be offered in various preparations in the Wy’East Café. Bones, trim, off-cuts, and organ meats are used to make stock, sausage, charcuterie, and stews. Timberline’s butchering program has been in effect for over a year using purchased beef and pork with great success.
“The quality, sustainability and economics make for a tremendous partnership,” says Kohnstamm, “It tells a fantastic local story that our guests will be thrilled with.” By partnering with Deschutes River Beef, Timberline has effectively eliminated several parts of the typical chain of production. “This is not only more cost effective for both the ranchers and the lodge,” says Executive Chef Jason Stoller Smith, “but it translates to an exceptional product for Timberline’s customers and provides a sense of intimacy in the dining room.” Guests will know where the food on their plate comes from and how it was grown. Next year, Deschutes River Beef will take the goal of complete traceability a step further. Each cow will be tagged with electronic ID numbers that provide a wealth of information, a catalog of the animal’s life from gate to plate.