Aspen Skiing Co. tabs Carbondale beef

SkiCo to serve environmentally-friendly product

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— Aspen Skiing Co.’s appetite for environmentally-friendly business practices will make its mark on the lunch plates of diners this winter.

SkiCo has committed to serve Carbondale-raised, grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef at 10 on-mountain restaurants, Jim Butchart, executive chef, mountain division, said Monday.

The SkiCo will purchase about 13,000 pounds of organic beef from Milagro Ranch for 10 restaurants’ use during ski season.

Butchart said the SkiCo decision supports local agriculture, reduces transportation associated with the food supply and provides numerous health benefits to customers.

“This is what sustainability looks like for a corporation,” he said.

SkiCo already had a relationship with Milagro Ranch, operated by Felix and Sarah Tornare. Montagna restaurant in SkiCo’s Little Nell hotel, Ajax Tavern at the base of Aspen Mountain and the Sundeck already were customers of Milagro Ranch. Now joining them will be Sam’s Smokehouse, the Ullrhof, Lynn Britt Cabin, Sneaky’s and Up 4 Pizza at Snowmass; Cloud 9 and Merry-Go-Round at Aspen Highlands; and Bump’s and Cliff House at Buttermilk.

Butchart said those restaurants will use ground beef from Milagro Ranch for burgers and chili. Up 4 Pizza will incorporate the grass-fed beef as pizza topping.

For consumers, the health advantages are clear, Butchart said. The grass-fed beef has less saturated fat, so it has less impact on cholesterol. And diners have the peace of mind of knowing their beef is free of antibiotics and hormones. A growing number of consumers want to know where their food comes from, Butchart said.

In addition, Milagro Ranch has been certified as producers of Certified Humane Raised and Handled Beef by a nonprofit organization called Humane Farm Animal Care. Its cattle are raised in pastures without going to a feedlot for fattening on grain before processing. The meat processor Milagro Ranch works with in Delta also is certified as humane, Butchart said.

Auden Schendler, SkiCo vice president of sustainability, said he thinks a good portion of the company’s customers will appreciate knowing they are “eating beef from a cow that was treated humanely.”

Butchart also thinks customers will like what they’re eating. Based on his prior experiences as a chef at Ajax Tavern, he said it’s more natural for cattle to graze on grass, and he thinks that is reflected in the taste of Milagro Ranch’s naturally lean beef.

“It’s more a straight beef flavor,” he said. “It is the closest thing we’re going to find to a healthy burger.”

The Ullrhof will specialize in burgers this winter. Butchart didn’t hesitate tying its fate to Milagro Ranch.

He also tried the meat in a taste test with a cross-section of SkiCo employees. It passed with flying colors.

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