Chicago has always been a beef town, but today’s consumers want more in their steaks, roasts and grounds. Like great taste and great nutrition. Tenderness and total transparency. And decades after Chicago’s meatpacking industry heyday, one Chicago fresh food startup is giving consumers exactly what they want.
Beef and Chicago – Then: It’s 1900, and the First International Livestock Exhibition has solidified Chicago’s spot as the meatpacking center of the world. Sure, location is a big factor, but it’s the invention of the refrigerated railcar by Lake Forest resident Gustavus Franklin Swift that really makes the difference. With widespread distribution of raw meat finally possible, meatpacking is transformed from a local operation into a coast-to-coast commodity.
Now: Fast forward to the present, and beef is on the hotplate. While its nutritional value remains strong, conventional standards of quality are rare. Some raise concern over conventionally produced beef’s social and environmental effects.
Enter another Chicago resident who, in 2012, started a second beef revolution: Pre Brands.
Lenny Lebovich had his beef epiphany while having lunch in Melbourne, Australia. The steak he ordered was the best tasting meat he had ever had. With each tender bite, he realized there was better beef out there than what was available on U.S. grocery store shelves. Beef that’s better tasting, better quality and better for you. So Lebovich quit his job to start a first-of-its-kind, customer-focused, fresh-food startup whose first mission is bringing consumers the best-tasting beef in the world. In doing so, he’s transformed every detail of how beef gets from pasture to package to plate.
“We’re 100% grass fed and finished, but not all grass fed is created equal,” says Lebovich.
True to form, Pre uses only the most tender breeds (Angus and Hereford) that are pasture raised year round on a variety of nutrient-rich grasses. The beef is tested for quality of life – after all, stressed meat is tough meat – and scrutinized for perfect marbling to ensure peak flavor. The beef is then wet aged for tenderness, hand-trimmed for consistent weight and size and vacuum-sealed for freshness. On the whole, Pre’s selection criteria are so stringent, less than 1% of all beef worldwide makes the cut.
The beef that does bear the Pre name dominates in taste as well as nutrition, offering less total fat with higher amounts of Omega 3s and CLAs and 38% fewer calories than similar commodity cuts, along with 29 grams of protein per serving and no added hormones or antibiotics. All Pre products are Whole30 Approved and Certified Paleo and Ketogenic, further indication of the brand’s stringent quality standards that have been recognized by a variety of clean, whole food diets
But better beef is far bigger than a nutrition label. The company joins other food innovators in changing the way consumers think about and get foods that fit in a better-for-you, socially aware lifestyle.
“You may not always eat meat,” Lebovich says, “but when you do, it should be the very best.”
BEEF & YOU
Here are five secrets to a deliciously healthy diet, according to Pre® Certified Holistic Chef Sarah Russo and Pre® Registered Dietitian Kristen Wilk.
- You don’t need to be a chef to cook amazing food – or a lot of time. The better the quality of the products you buy, the less you have to do to make them taste great.
- You don’t need to be a nutritionist either. Go for a mix of plant- and animal-based proteins, with a foundation of leafy greens, fresh fruits and veggies, unrefined starches, nuts, seeds & healthy fats.
- Cook with confidence, following basic rules for flavor balance. A little bit of each flavor – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (savory) – creates wonderful flavor combinations every time!
- When creating a meal from scratch, taste as you go. Adjust every step of the way to avoid having to re-season at the end of the meal.
- Embrace the range of simple, fail-proof and fabulous ways to prepare great food. From Sesame Korean Beef in the Instant Pot and Jamaican Jerk Sirloin Skewer Bowls (pictured below) to Greek Steak Salad and Surf & Turf Crostinis, explore delicious Pre recipes for every skill level at eatpre.com.
You can find Pre Brands beef in and around Chicago at Mariano’s, Treasure Island, Heinen’s, Meijer, Foxtrot, Grand Food Center, Valli Produce and now at select Jewel-Osco locations in the northern suburbs*. Also available via Amazon Fresh and Peapod and a host of other fine supermarkets. Use Pre’s store locator to find a store near you.
Hungry yet? Here’s a great recipe:
Jamaican Jerk Sirloin Skewer Bowl
Cook time: 10 min | Prep time: 5 min | Serves 1-2
1 Pre® Brands Top Sirloin Steak, room temperature
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp all-spice
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt (Redmond’s Real Salt is our favorite)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp grapeseed oil or melted coconut oil
Preheat a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet to medium high heat.
Prepare the rub. Combine all spices in a small bowl.
Add oil to the spices to make a paste-like mixture.
Rub the spice mixture all over the steak.
Place into greased hot skillet. If your steak is 2″ thick let it cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium rare.
Let rest for 6 minutes on a cutting board.
Slice the steak into thin strips and thread onto wooden skewers. Enjoy!
Serving suggestion: Serve with a bowl of your favorite veggies and grains.
*Pre’s team of Beef Geeks are coming! Enter to win a month of free meat at your local Jewel-Osco, THIS WEEKEND ONLY from 12 – 3:30 p.m. on February 24 and 25:
Saturday, February 24 at these Jewel-Osco stores:
- 1600 Deerfield Road, Highland Park
- 890 N Western Avenue, Lake Forest
- 1300 S Milwaukee Avenue, Libertyville
- 1150 W Maple Avenue, Mundelein
- 9449 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie
- 1763 W Howard Street, Chicago
Sunday, February 25 at these Jewel-Osco stores:
- 79 McHenry Road, Buffalo Grove
- 16 S Waukegan Road, Deerfield
- 2485 W Howard Street, Evanston
- 1128 Chicago Avenue, Evanston
- 1340 Patriot Boulevard, Glenview
- 885 E Belvidere Road, Grayslake
- 6509 W Grand Avenue, Gurnee
- 411 Green Bay Road, Wilmette
- 1517 Sheridan Road, Wilmette
This story was sponsored by Pre® Brands: Pre® Brands is a Chicago-based premium fresh food startup currently focused on bringing consumers the world’s best beef. Pre believes in using a modern approach to traditional methods to maximize eating experience while doing what’s right from health, safety, social and environmental perspectives. Through rigorous selection criteria, Pre has mastered the art of providing the most delicious 100% grass-fed and finished beef in the world – which is also lower in calories and fat and higher in Omega-3’s and CLA’s than commodity beef, without added hormones or added antibiotics – with relentless consistency. Available in individually packaged steaks (Ribeye, New York Strip, Top Sirloin and Filet Mignon), ground beef, two-pack hamburger patties and chuck roast, Pre products are sold offline and online across the continental United States. To learn more, visit www.eatpre.com.