Now Serving Martin Andersen's Beef

First published in the Washington Island Observer

Hotel Washington now features Island- raised beef during its Thursday “Burgers and Beer” night.

This is the first year for Chef Matt Poole at Hotel Washington. Poole comes from Chez Panisse, a farm-totable restaurant in California that decades ago built relationships with local farmers to supply ingredients that were fresh and high quality.

Poole is looking to do a similar thing on the Island. “There’s something valuable about making sure more money stays on the Island, finding ways to not just offer products people want to eat and experiences they want to have, but making sure we are supporting the people who live here,” said Poole. “I want to make the most local product as we could, and you can’t get more local than a cow raised on Main Road.”

The beef comes from Martin Andersen, who has been raising beef cattle on the Island since 1976. “I was raised on a farm,” said Andersen. “On the dairy on Main Road. My father quit the dairy in 1979 or 1980.” For the first few years, raising cattle was mostly a hobby for Andersen, but it quickly grew into a larger operation. He raises primarily black angus and shorthorn cross.

“It’s grass fed and hay fed, and I do finish with some oats and corn,” says Andersen. “It qualifies as natural beef. You can’t call it organic because I use some commercial fertilizer, but most of it is done with manure from the cattle.”

Andersen sells most of his beef offisland to returning customers whobuy half a steer. The

last time he sold beef to an Island restaurant was also at Hotel Washington when under management of its previous owner, Brian Vendewalle.

“It takes more time, work and phone calls,” says Poole regarding local suppliers. “It’s not like going on a website and telling them how many pounds of ground beef you want.” Poole had to work with a processor off-island to get the cuts of meat wanted.

Besides hamburgers, the restaurant will be serving bone-in ribeye and NewYork Strip Steak. “We will announce when we have them on the menu as we will only have a certain number of each.”

“This is just the beginning,” said Poole. He has also been working with a few local foragers who are harvesting wild mushrooms, nettles, and garlic mustard for the Restaurant. “I’d like to be getting more from the Island, said Poole. “One thing we can’t get right now is duck. Maybe we could partner with someone who would raise duck for us.”

Photo by Heidi Hodges.