And when they were doing their cattle call for Le Grand, the Stetson-topped ranchers of CBB gave both the front and back of the house an extensive meat-tasting seminar, answering questions about their beef and educating the staff, making sure that "they could put a face to the product," Elliott says.

Chefs can often tell the quality of a restaurant through its burger, and Le Grand's Colorado's Best Beef burger puts lesser-pedigreed versions to shame. This meat tastes just like the word "Charolais" sounds in your mouth: sweet, rich, almost European in its flamboyant flavors. The fresh aioli, the Gruyère, the caramelized onions all melting into each other would threaten to overload the already sweet beef — it if weren't strong enough to hold up. The burger is juicy without being messy, delicate without the fat making it seem too savory. In short, it's just about perfect.

Colorado's Best Beef has raised the bar for Colorado beef. But it's not easy being Best. The beef industry has suffered from stories about so-called pink slime, and this summer's drought has hurt the two families hard, with water scarce and hay and feed prices skyrocketing. But ranchers are used to rolling with the punches. Just as Charolais seem to have deliciousness in their genes, Ferris believes he's got ranching in his bloodstream. "I was born into it, exposed to it from a very young age, couldn't shake it," he says.

The contented cows of Colorado's Best Beef.
Kirsten Bose
The contented cows of Colorado's Best Beef.

"It's just a good way of life," adds Elliott.

And it helps when that life is dedicated to very good beef.

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While originally from Japan, Emma Farms Cattle Company in Basalt, Colorado is now raising 100 percent pure Colorado Wagyu cattle and has also supplied a herd of 50 cattle to Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa (located outside Winter Park) as part of its expanding pasture to plate program.  It's good to see ranchers taking a much more humane and thoughtful approach to meat production and practices.  Love Wagyu or never tried it?  Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa hosts a signature James Beard Foundation Dinner on Sept. 8th --, which will showcase a sustainably elegant menu of food and wine, proceeds of which go to the JBF's Scholarship program.

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Be sure to check out Jax in Boulder and Denver  who have both been using choice cuts and burger meat from CBB for close to a decade  .....and of course the West End Tavern who uses their beef exclusively and has been doing so for even longer .  Great story on a great local product we've been enjoying for a long time.  Glad to see the word is getting out there and that more new shops are choosing their beef from such a great source.  


I had CBB tartare yesterday at La Grand. It was nothing less than sublime, and now I know why the beef seemed to take the dish to such heights. If the restaurant and the ranchers can do tartare like that, their cooked steak (which I was too full for, unfortunately) has got to be out of this world.