The People Behind The Plates

June 15, 2017

The People Behind The Plates

Ocala Style Home & Garden: 

The People Behind The Plates

Food brings people together to share stories, innovates and draws inspiration from its community. Healthy Living learned from four local restaurateurs what it takes to serve different, delicious dishes just like this.

By Katie McPherson / Photos by John Jernigan - Monday, March 28, 2016


It’s easy to forget the power of food. We think about it three times daily, often in a rush. Food, however, is a way to travel without ever leaving the table, to learn about other cultures. It brings people together to share stories, innovates and draws inspiration from its community. Healthy Living learned from four local restaurateurs what it takes to serve different, delicious dishes just like this.

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ChefGreg Mullen, The Blue Wagyu

“If we can do it from scratch, we do. If it’s not in season, I don’t want it. We take more of a rustic approach. We’re a little more country than rock ‘n’ roll in that sense,” Chef Greg Mullen laughs.

Mullen spent his early years in his mother’s restaurant and moved to Southeast Asia his junior year of high school, where he first encountered wagyu beef. He came to Ocala about 10 years ago and opened a downtown cooking school, where he met Mary Maverick Gary, now his business partner. Blue Wagyu began when the two attended a wagyu convention, which led to procuring land to raise their own cattle, responsibly.

“It started off with 20 cows. Now we’re at 400-plus animals,” says Mullen of the farm they use to supply the Blue Wagyu restaurant and store. “For us, the main thing is the care of our animals and to do it a better way. We are opposed to feed lots, so that meant we had to fall into a pasture-based program.”

For them, wagyu is also a way to redirect the future of cattle farming.

“These animals bring high concentrations of monounsaturated fats and omega 3s and 6s. If you were to take those genetics and put them over into commercial cattle, you’re going to up the quality level and the health benefits,” Mullen explains.

Commercial beef are harvested at 18 months, but Mullen’s livestock isn’t harvested until over three years. They breed both 100 percent wagyu (of which there are only 5,000 in the United States) and American wagyu, which are 75 to 87 percent wagyu and part angus.

“All of our burgers, 90 percent of our steaks, all of our chuck roast, our chilis, it’s all made from beef we produce here in Ocala,” says Mullen.

To taste a variety of wagyu beef, raised locally and imported from Japan, try a wagyu flight. The rest of the menu is laden with burgers, each named for a famous wagyu sire. (A study by Oxford University found there is such a thing as the perfect burger. Turns out, it requires wagyu.)

“You’ve got four receptors on your palate when you eat a burger and the brain registers ‘OK, that’s beef.’ Then you eat wagyu, and it hits six receptors because it’s got those higher fats and amino acids,” he explains. “I believe that’s what people want. They want food that’s wholesome, clean, simple and fires off those things their bodies say they need.”

 

The Blue Wagyu

6998 N. US Hwy 27, Unit #111, Ocala

(352) 622-9977

www.bluewagyu.com

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