On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Austin Simmons of Tris in The Woodlands and Jordan Beeman of HeartBrand Beef, a Texas ranch that raises wagyu-derived akaushi cattle, join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss an innovative collaboration they've developed. Known as HeartBrand X, the beef program provides a new use for the ranch's 10-year old breeding cows. Instead of being "harvested" for generic burger grind, Simmons is serving the animals as steaks at his highly acclaimed restaurant.
The conversation dives into how the program got started and what Beeman's plans for it are in the future. Currently, Simmons serves the beef in flights alongside HeartBrand's traditional, two-year old beef, as well as dry-aged HeartBrand beef, and even A5 Japanese wagyu. Asked about the flavor, Simmons can barely contain his excitement.
"This animal eats as good as any steak I've ever served in the restaurant — and sometimes, better," Simmons says. "Currently, the 10-year old we have right now is out-cutting everything on the menu, and we're doing these steak boards just to prove it. We'll put all these different [steak brands] — Creekstone, 44 Farms, HeartBrand 100-day dry-aged, HeartBrand two-year old, 10-year old, A5 — and everybody picks the 10-year old because of the beefiness of it."
Prior to the beef-focused interview, Fluff Bake Bar owner Rebecca Masson and Sandler discuss the news of their week. Their topics include bartenders Lindsay Rae and Billy Boyd's plans to open a new bar in Midtown; local farm Loam Agrnomics' decision to suspend customer-facing operations, including its popular CSA program; and the imminent arrival of California-based sandwich shop Mendocino Farms to Rice Village.
In the restaurant of the week segment, they share some impressions of Taste Bar + Kitchen, chef Don Bowie's Midtown restaurant that serves creative variations of chicken and waffles and other Southern specialities. Masson also briefly discusses her appearance on The Chef Show, a Netflix series that stars director Jon Favreau and Los Angeles chef Roy Choi.