There are carnivores among us, and for those who enjoy their meat and the availability of the best beef, cut, price and direct delivery, then search no further than New York Prime Beef, who recently won the People's Choice Award at the Great Steak Debate at the Bowery Meat Co.
Josh Tanner, in partnership with Vincent Pacificio, is passionate about good beef, and he knows where you get it - at Hunts Point in the Bronx, NY. They sell only the best USDA Premium dry aged meats, domestic Wagyu, and imported Japanese Kobe, and bring those delicious choices directly to the consumer mostly in the New York metro area.
Beef is big business for these two gentlemen who simply will not compromise on the quality or aging process of the beef. They have built their business so that the consumer gets a fully customized order delivered to their doorstep within 24 hours. By providing this direct service to the consumer, and by sourcing their quality product directly from suppliers, as well as sharing a 50 plus acre site and central refrigeration with more than 40 other businesses on site, the focus always remains where it should be - on the beef and what to eat!
A perfectly prepared t-bone cut. (Photo: NYPB)
Pacificio is well known in the meat industry, and is Chairman of several meat companies, including Vista Food Exchange. Tanner, a former chef, turned his talents to the business end of beef, after spending many years with Whole Foods handling organic and natural commodities.
If you need help choosing aged (at least 28 days) short loins, shells, ribs, and even some pork, this is where you go and who you talk to, whether you are interested in Porterhouse, Cowboy Ribeye, Wagyu or Kobe. The meats are always cut to order, then bagged, sealed, hand-wrapped, signed by the butcher himself, and sent FRESH, never, ever frozen.
The farm to table movement in the U.S. has received plenty of kudos and attention - now beef takes its place at the table too. Steaks start around $100, which barely covers appetizers in a good NYC restaurant, so the price is fair, the service exemplary and the choices endless.
We caught up with Josh for a few questions:
Given your background as both a chef and businessman whose focus lent itself to the organic movement, we must ask, why beef?
It was really very serendipitous meeting Vincent Pacifico when I did. I was relocating my family to a farm in the Catskills and trying to refocus my work around exceptional food. With New York Prime Beef I may not be dealing with traditional natural/organic products, but we are dealing with the best of the best, which as a food lover, is always gratifying. In addition, the idea of building a bespoke meat brand seemed like a unique opportunity to create a truly one of a kind experience for our customers in their homes.
Can you describe exactly what "aged beef" means, and why it is so important to the consumer when making a selection of beef?
The New York Prime Beef dry aging room. (Photo: NYPB)
Here at New York Prime Beef we dry age our beef. This is a process in which large bone in cuts of meat are stored in a carefully temperature and humidity controlled cooler set up with fans to promote air circulation. We typically leave our beef for 28 days, but sometimes longer. Dry aging allows the connective tissue and muscle to break down and become more tender, while at the same time water evaporates and good microbes concentrate and enhance the flavor of the beef. Before preparing the beef, the dried outer bark must be removed. Between the extra trimming and the water loss, this can add significant expense to the finished product, hence the higher prices.
What would you consider to be the perfect cut and how would you prepare it?
I've got two favorites. The perfect cut for me is the big, bone in Cowboy Ribeye. I love to cook them outdoors over a hard wood fire. I first let the steak smoke a bit, and finish with a hard sear over the hot coals. Our customer favorite is probably the American Wagyu New York Strip. Just a little salt and a quick pan searing in cast iron is the best way to really bring out the flavor in this delicate, buttery steak.
What selection process is applied when considering just what restaurants in NYC you provide meats to?
We only work with restaurants who share our extreme attention to detail and focus. You won't see New York Prime Beef in an "everything to everyone" type of establishment. Currently we're talking to smaller establishments with unique brands, such as our own.
Have you found that with the success of New York Prime Beef, you are being called upon more to suggest the perfect side dishes and/or wines to accompany select cuts and aged meats?
Absolutely. This is especially true with our regular customers who call in their orders. One favorite is frying sliced fingerling potatoes in the rendered fat of the American Wagyu beef.
What are the most important skills a great butcher must possess?
The Japanese Kobe is easily the most expensive cut NYPB offers. (Photo: NYPB)
Now, I wouldn't call myself a "great" butcher. Like many chefs, I'm a bit of a jack of all trades, master of some. Our butchers at New York Prime on the other hand, are phenomenal. They have the ability to read the meat when looking at the whole piece. Anyone can see the size of the eye on a rib or the hints of marbling. A truly great butcher can tell which piece will break perfectly based on the size and type of cuts we have for an order. Even beyond that, our butchers have exceedingly high standards. If a piece isn't perfect, they'll cut another.
There are those that believe that the best beef in the world may come from Japan or Europe. Does New York Prime Beef try to educate their consumers on what U.S. grown and aged beefs are comparable?
Japan and Europe certainly have great beef. We actually sell quite a bit of Kobe from Japan. That said, we try to ask as many questions as possible of our customers to make sure they're getting a cut that they're happy with. While you can't compare American Wagyu to Japanese Kobe, we do explain to customers that our domestic product rates a minimum of 9 of 12 on the MSB (Japanese Marbling Scale). This means it is heavily marbled, but also noticeably lighter than Kobe and many people actually prefer it.
Given the reasonable price point on what New York Prime Beef offers, what would you consider to be the most expensive beef and cut?
The Japanese Kobe is easily the most expensive cut. We offer a 20 oz. piece for $250 with free FedEx overnight included. What many people don't realize is that 20 oz. of Kobe will easily satisfy five adults. This beef is more akin to foie gras than steak. Heavily marbled with super rich fat that melts at 93 degrees, Kobe literally melts in your mouth like a pat of extra decadent butter.
Thanks for sharing, Josh, and we know our readers mouths must be watering for a great steak for dinner tonight!
For more information or to order from New York Prime Beef go to www.newyorkprimebeef.com, or call 1-800-STEAK-NY.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.