david_burke_prime_ct

Creekstone Beef Served in Top Restaurants Around America Is Halal

What if I told you that the high-quality beef served top restaurants across America was actually Zabihah Halal meat? Impossible, right?

Well, guess what? It’s actually true. Creekstone Farms, one of the top choices of beef for restaurants across America, just so happens to be a fully Zabihah Halal beef processing company.

Creekstone_Logo

That means you can walk into any restaurant that gets beef from Creekstone, select a dish that is made with that beef, ensure it’s cooked and prepared without cross-contamination with other meats or alcohol, and enjoy some of the best meat in the country.

And what’s more is this is not run-of-the-mill average stuff. These are some of the top rated restaurants in major cities and even across the country.

And it’s all Zabihah Halal. Hand slaughtered Zabihah Halal.

Unbelievable, huh? It is. Which is why I’ve done my research and have laid out how it all works in this article. For those of you who want to read the details, you can scroll down below. But if you just want to just eat this high-end beef, check out this running list, call up one of the restaurants and do a couple checks to verify the dish is prepared Halal, and enjoy.

The running list:

NOTE: This list is based off of searching for “Creekstone” on Google and Yelp. So it may not be totally up to date, is always subject to change, is usually for select beef items on menus only, and requires calling ahead to verify with each restaurant availability and no cross contamination of meats of use of alcohol in dishes.

Chicago:

  • David Burke’s Primehouse
  • Epic Burger
  • Eataly (market) & Baffo (restaurant)
  • Mon Ami Gabi
  • The Palmer House
  • Carnivale
  • Travelle
  • Frontera by Rick Bayless
  • The Side Door
  • The Lobby
  • Houlihan’s (The Loop on Wacker)
  • Roka Akor
  • Owen & Engine

New York:

  • Eataly (No longer offering Creekstone)
  • Minetta Tavern
  • Babbo
  • Café Boulud
  • China Grill
  • Del Posto
  • Pastis
  • Porterhouse New York
  • Standard Grill
  • Marea
  • Tabla
  • Khe-Yo
  • Perilla Restaurant
  • Clear Cut Meals
  • Marc Forgione
  • The Stanton Social
  • Salt & Fat
  • Many more… (Creekstone is super popular in NY)

San Francisco:

  • Baker & Banker
  • Isa
  • BIX
  • Park Tavern
  • Phat Philly
  • Marlowe
  • A K Meats
  • La Folie
  • Cocotte
  • Gitane
  • The Brazen Head
  • Skool
  • Farallon
  • Fringale
  • Fog Harbor Fish House
  • Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe
  • Bisou
  • Town Hall
  • Many more… (man, San Fran is such a food haven)

San Jose:

  • Los Gatos Meats & Smoke House
  • Pizza Antica
  • Parcel 104
  • Hay Market Willow Glen
  • The Patty Shack (Redwood City)
  • Coconuts Caribbean

Los Angeles:

  • Hole In the Wall Burger Joint
  • Petit Ermitage
  • Red O
  • RH
  • Beachwood Cafe
  • Farm Stand

Detroit:

  • Toasted Oak Grill and Market
  • The Hill Seafood and Chophouse
  • Prime29 Steakhouse
  • Northern Lakes Seafood Restaurant

Houston:

  • Killen’s BBQ
  • Frankline’s BBQ (Austin)
  • Houston Texans Grill
  • Ruthie’s Tex Mex
  • JP’s Grill

Atlanta:

  • South City Kitchen
  • Dantanna’s
  • Salt Factory

Other cities:

National Chains:

  • Houlihan’s
  • No others (confirmed with Creekstone’s National Sales Director via Email)

NOTE: There are others in each of these cities I did not list, as they were very bar, club, and alcohol oriented in nature.

Don’t see your city listed? Just search for the word “Creekstone” along with your city on Google, or Yelp, or even search on Instagram or Twitter.

This is some serious news for Muslim eaters. There are so many options in each city, and this is just for the ones I happened to search and list. You can search for “Creekstone” on Google and Yelp inputting the city closest to you and see what you get. A quick phone call to confirm with the restaurant of your choice, and top quality Zabihah Halal beef is waiting for you to devour.

As a Chicagoan, I want to try out Epic Burger, which Serious Eats describes having “well-smashed patty and some pretty amazing fries” and Zagat reviews having “fabulous milkshakes” with locations in Skokie and in and around downtown Chicago.

Epic Burger, Chicago [Photograph: Ali Fiaz]
Epic Burger, Chicago [Photograph: Ali Fiaz]
Or maybe take my wife out for some fancy-pants dry-aged steak or burger at David Burke’s Primehouse, as in the guy who was on Top Chef, owns probably the top steakhouse in all of Chicago, dry ages his beef in house, and whose steaks are featured and reviewed all over food publications as some of the best in the country.

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40 Day Dry-Aged Ribeye Steak at David Burke’s Primehouse, Chicago [Photograph: Serious Eats]
david_burke_burger_serious_eats
40 Day Dry-Aged Prime Steak “Burker” at David Burke’s Primehouse, Chicago [Photograph: Serious Eats]

Or, if I can’t find choice grade Creekstone beef in select grocery stores, maybe for Eid or my anniversary I can splurge and buy some ultra highly marbled premium angus beef from the butcher at Eataly, Mario Batali’s hot new Italian market, whose butchers told me on the phone carries pretty much all Creekstone beef. Or, I can always order the Creekstone New York Strip steak from their high-end restaurant in Chicago, Baffo.

eataly-butcher
Creekstone premium beef for sale at the Eataly butcher in New York [Photograph: Melting Butter]
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Creekstone Premium Black Angus beef available at Green Hills Market in Central New York and at Shop N Save in Bridgeview, IL. (Photograph: Green Hills Market Blog)

Exciting!

How I found out

A question you may be wondering at this point: How?!

That’s exactly the question that came to my mind, causing me to research this issue thoroughly for the past few months. But what’s crazy about this whole discovery is that the more I dug into it, the more everything in the story began to check out.

A few months ago, one of my wife’s besties Emailed us the following:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Aliyah N. Rab
Date: Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 7:12 PM
Subject: Fwd: Creekstone Farms
To: Ayesha Siddique, Saqib Shafi

let’s GO.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: John Cecala <john.cecala@buedelfinemeats.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 7:11 PM
Subject: Re: Creekstone Farms
To: “Aliyah N. Rab”

Hello,

You can try Mon Ami Gabi, David Burke’s Primehouse, The Palmer House, Carnivalle, Travelle, to name a few.

John Cecala
Buedel Fine Meats & Provisions
www.buedelfinemeats.com

> On Jan 9, 2014, at 6:08 PM, “Aliyah N. Rab” wrote:
>
> Hi,
>
> I was wondering which restaurants in Chicago carry Creekstone Farms meat?
>
> Thanks,
> Aliyah

“Let’s go? What does she mean? And what’s Creekstone Farms?” I knew Aliyah and her husband only eat Zabihah Halal, so this couldn’t have been a non-Zabihah listing. Then it hit me.

“Is this meat… Halal…??!”

Immediately, I Google searched “Creekstone Halal”. The results were shocking yet explain right away why Aliyah sent us such an excited Email.

  • Creekstone’s website. Which explains they serve premium angus beed certified through the Halal Transactions of Omaha.
  • Ibn Percy blog post on Shake Shack. From 2013 where some Muslims looked into if Shake Shack is Halal (more on this later), found that Creekstone is the supplier for the beef at their Middle East locations.
  • New York Times article on Creekstone. That their meat is the top choice for acclaimed New York chefs, meaning this is some seriously high-quality beef we’re talking about here.

Wow.

lafrieda2_meatopia
[Photograph: Josh Ozersky’s Meatopia]
So, not only is this Halal meat, this is some of the best quality meat in the country.  I mean, just look at the marbling on the prime rib roast above. The fat is disperesed throughout the entire cut. Since this is beef used for expensive cuts like steaks, you want it to be nice a and fatty. It’s beef. You shouldn’t really be eating it that much, anyway. But when you do, now you have the option to really eat it and eat it well.

creekstone_grass-fed
[Photograph: Creekstone Farms]
Considering Halal meat, particularly beef, is not usually the best quality stuff, this is an anomaly of a combination. Plus, Creekstone’s special cattle are grass-fed then grain-finished to plump them up with a fully vegetarian feed. The feed does not contain any hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products. High-quality halal and tayyib!

I asked Aliyah where she got this information from, and she mentioned another friend of my wife, Sarah and her husband, Abdulrahman El-Sayed of the 2×2 Project, former Michiganders out in Manhattan. Sarah heard from a foodie friend of theirs that the beef in high-end restaurnts in New York was actually Zabihah, verified with Creekstone herself, and forwarded the info to Aliyah who sent it to us. Somehow, this information has been secret with some brilliant Muslim foodies in New York for so long. Until now.

Confirming with Creekstone

While my heart more than believed my Muslim brethren my brain was thinking what your probably is right now, as well: this was too good to be true. So, I decided to reach out to Creekstone myself, as well as see if I can get a hold of the Halal certifier. I knew I would eventually want to release this information to the public. In that case, I needed to do a bit more research on the issue so those wanting information beyond my own interests would have any and all questions answered up front. To begin, I sent an Email to Creekstone themselves.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Saqib Shafi
Date: Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 8:17 AM
Subject: Halal
To: angusinfo@creekstonefarms.com

Hello,

Can you please give me information on your Halal meat?

Namely looking for info on:

1. Slaughter method, is it hand slaughtered?
2. Is all the meat you offer Halal, or just a portion?
3. Do you distribute the Halal meat out in Chicago?

Thanks!

Saqib Shafi

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Courtney Every <cevery@cfpbeef.com>
Date: Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 8:22 AM
Subject: RE: Halal
To: Saqib Shafi

Saqib,

Thank you for your message and interest in Creekstone Farms. All Creekstone Farms cattle are processed in a manner that meets the religious qualifications of Halal. However, we only certify it as Halal if it is requested by the customer. You would be able to check with the individual supplier to see if the product they have is Halal certified or not as we do provide Halal meat to different suppliers across the country. Please just let me know if you have any other questions or if there is anything else you need. Thank you!

Have a good day,

Courtney Every
Marketing Coordinator
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC
604 Goff Industrial Park Road
Arkansas City, KS 67005
www.creekstonefarms.com

Wow! Right away, Courtney was able to verify and speak to the fact that their meat is Halal. But what’s more is she mentioned all of their beef is slaughtered Halal. It’s just up to the supplier buying from them to pay extra for the Halal certification.

Verifying with the Halal certifier

With the beef company’s word cleared, next it was on to the Halal certification organization, Halal Transactions of Omaha (HTO).

hta_logo

I sent an Email asking the following:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Saqib Shafi
Date: Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 9:21 AM
Subject: Beef
To: info@halaltransactions.org

Assalaamu alaykum,

Hope you are doing well, and Jumu’ah mubarak!
I wanted to ask about your beef. Is it hand slaughtered?

Also, can you tell me about Creekstone Farms. Are they Halal certified by HTO? And is that hand-slaughtered? Is all their beef HTO certified?

JAK!

Saqib Shafi

I didn’t get a response for some time, so I decided to call. An admin employee picked up that took my questions but said it would be best if I spoke to Dr. Ahmed Alabsy, director of HTO.

hto
Dr. Alabsy (middle) with the HTO crew at the 2014 Natural Products Expo West. [Photograph: Halal Transactions of Omaha Blog]
Since I called on a Friday, he was busy at Jumu’ah prayers (being in a different time zone I had already finished mine), so we were unable to link up. Eventually, Dr. Alabsy responded.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: <hto@halaltransactions.org>
Date: Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 10:32 AM
Subject: RE: FW: Beef
Cc: Rich Swearingen <richs@cfpbeef.com>
Assalamu Alaikum Br. Saqib

Thank you for your inquiry about our Halal services. All the beef that we certify is hand slaughtered by trained Muslim slaughtermen. We do certify the Halal beef of Creekstone Farms and all their beef is hand slaughtered.

To be assured of the authenticity of Halal when purchasing any meat product please make sure that the cases of meat are labeled with our Halal Logo and ask the supplier to show you a copy of our Halal slaughter certificate.

Jazakum Allahu Khairan.
Thank you,

Dr. Ahmad Alabsy

So, now the Halal certification company is telling the same story. Great progress! Pretty much enough for me to but I wanted a little more information. Because if I planned to tell my fellow Zabihah-only eaters, especially the Desi Hanafi ones in Chicago, I needed all the information I could get and then some. Plus, I wanted some extra info on the whole history behind Creekstone. So I continued my inquiries with the doctor.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Saqib Shafi
Date: Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Subject: Re: FW: Beef
To: “hto@halaltransactions.org” <hto@halaltransactions.org>
Cc: Rich Swearingen <richs@cfpbeef.com>
Thank you for your quick response, Dr. Alabsy! This is great information, and for me and my family, enough to consider it Halal!

For some others I’d like to share this information with, there may be additional questions that come up I’d like to clear up, as well.

1) Does the Muslim employee recite the basmalah?

2) By hand slaughtered, does that mean a knife is used by hand, as some organizations have varying definitions of hand slaughtered?

Again, these questions are beyond my own scope but I know others will want to know, and appreciate your response!

More important to me, is the business side of the question, which maybe Rich can answer:

3) How did Creekstone venture into Halal, and why do they do it? I imagine it’s more costly to maintain such standards? Did HTO approach CFP or vice versa?
Thanks again!

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Halal Transactions of Omaha
Date: Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 11:08 AM
Subject: RE: FW: Beef
To: Saqib Shafi
Cc: Richard Xanthakis
Assalamu Alaikum Br. Saqib

1) Yes the Muslim slaughterman pronounces the Tasmiah, Bismillah Allahu Akbar.
2) The knife is used by hand to perform the slaughtering of animals.
3) Creekstone is certified by HTO and they have been committed to applying the Halal procedure from the start and Creekstone wants to venture into the Halal market. Few companies are willing to apply the Halal procedure correctly, such as Creekstone, and those who do can reap the benefit of taping into the lucrative Halal market. Creekstone plant is approved by Muslim communities and countries around the world to ship Halal slaughtered beef to Muslim consumers who appreciate good quality Halal beef.
Thank you for your persistent questions and inquiries.
Jazakum Allahu Khairan,

Dr. Ahmad Alabsy

Bechara (poor guy). For those of you familiar with the Halal meat war zone that is Chicago, you’ll see my questions as totally normal. But this whole conversation reminded me that in much of Muslim America, this level of investigation into meat slaughter methods doesn’t really exist. If someone says it’s Halal, it’s Halal. There’s more trust to the experts and less doubt from the users which I believe truly goes in two ways, for better or for worse. But that’s a different discussion for another day.

To address any awkwardness, I ended up calling Dr. Alabsy to speak to him personally. I apologized for any sort of rudeness in my Emails, explained that I’m just an excited Muslim guy who likes to eat food, and while I was convinced I know that I needed a lot more information if I wanted to share it with the greater Muslim community. We then had a nice conversation about his background, how he moved from academia to Halal certification, and more.  Later, when I told a friend who works for in the Halal meat business about this whole ordeal, he told me that Dr. Alabsy is actually a huge name in the industry, and from his blog I found that he is one of the proponents of the “farm to fork” methodology that a lot of Halal companies are trying to implement in order to truly provide meat that is both Halal and Tayyib. I was grateful God gave me the opportunity to speak with him.

Addressing a misspeak in the New York Times

There was one issue that Dr. Alabsy along with Creekstone cleared up for me. In the 2010 New York Times article covering Creekstone, the author writes about how the stunning process at the plant actually kills the cow instantly.

Steak aficionados who prefer not to take responsibility for their taste buds might skip the rest of this paragraph. Dr. Grandin’s conveyor-belt system lifts the live cattle up to the “knock room.” There, a pneumatic bolt gun “kills them instantly,“ she said, putting a five-inch-long retractable bolt into the head. “They walk up and then, bang, it’s done,” she said.

Shocking, because that would mean this entire discovery was moot, as the meat would then be considered maytan (dead) and, thus, impermissible.

However, Dr. Alabsy responded with the following:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Halal Transactions of Omaha
Date: Mon, May 19, 2014 at 12:36 AM
Subject: Re: FW: Beef
To: Saqib Shafi, Richard
Assalamu Alaikum

Actually stunning by this method does not kill the animal instantly, just become immobilized and less sensitive to pain while the heart still pumping for about 5 minutes, during which the animal is slaughtered – bled with a sharp knife.

Additionally, Courtney from Creekstone also called me on the phone and explained that the article was a misspeak, namely because it’s not true, as the animal does not instantly die, but also because the entire purpose of hiring the Muslim slaughter line was to perform a Halal slaughter, which necessitates the animal to be alive.

That, plus the ad that I found mitigated this concern for me. The cattle are not killed instantly, the article was a misspeak, and this meat is indeed Halal.

Further understanding

At this point, everything was ready to roll for me and the daydreams of making reservations at David Burke’s Primehouse started to cross my mind. But there was some information still lingering as unclear in my mind. Firstly,  I wanted to know the history of how this whole thing came to be. Because it’s a great system they’ve got setup. It would be so interesting to know how it all happened.

creekstone_ny_times
[Photograph: Larry W. Smith, New York Times]
After the history, I also wanted to know how the company can really have an all-Muslim staff line of slaughterhouse workers. That sounded a bit like a stretch to me. If they’re such a famous beef provider, how do they ensure they have enough Muslim employees on site to slaughter? What if at one point there are no Muslims on a certain day, do other people then perform the slaughter because business must go on? How do they find and hire Muslims? And are there any near where their slaughterhouse is in Kansas?

Lucky for me, Dr. Alabsy advised I reach out to Rich Swearingen, head of international sales for Creekstone to get the full picture. I called Rich, a very kind hearted respectful southern man, who entertained all my questions and more.

Apparently, within the past decade or so, the company decided to expand their business to the Middle East by getting into the meat export business. Restaurants in rich Gulf countries like the UAE or metropolitan cities like Cairo would probably pay top dollar for high quality fatty juicy American Angus beef which is in abundance over the leaner, scarcer local grass-fed stuff. From what I recall, this was proposed to them by Dr. Alabsy himself, the company went for it, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Regarding the all Muslim staff, Rich confirmed their operations have only Muslims on staff, carrying out the slaughters all done by hand with the proper “Halal prayers” recited over each cattle. The company hires only Muslim employees, and when I asked if there could ever be a time when the line would ever have a time in which there are no Muslim employees available for slaughter he said no. Creekstone advertises job openings to work the slaughter line to the greater Muslim community in Kansas and while he admits there is decent amount of turnover, he assured that the slaughterers are all Muslim all the time.

While I had my doubts, a quick Google search for simply “Creekstone Halal” gave me a result for the very job listing Rich was talking about.

creekstone_job_listing
[Image: Creekstone Farms]
Seeing this removed all doubts from my mind. I mean, look at what it says. Employees must be practicing Muslims, a sharp knife is used by hand, and the need to recite the tasmiyah (name of Allah) is a part of the job description itself. Seriously, it doesn’t get more Zabihah Halal than that.

Creekstone and Islamophobia

Halal meat is often the target of Islamophobes as one of their petty tactics of bigotry.

daily_mail_halal
Daily Mail publishing a front page Islamophobic story on Halal Meat. [Image: Islamophobia Watch]

Creekstone’s Halal operation isn’t exactly something that’s marketed out there, and I wondered if it was because of fear of potential problems from bigots and hate mongers.

According to Rich, Creekstone already received backlash from Islamophobes in the Kansas area for posting the job ad to hire Muslim employees.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yeah. It’s just very unfortunate that some people are so uneducated in our country,” Rich said depressed sounding on the phone. He then went on for a good five to six minutes about how upset the situation makes him and how ignorance is hurting the fabric of our country.

This is what really shined about this whole ordeal for me. Sure, for Creekstone, going Halal is primarily just business. They are a company, after all. But the rants Rich had and the disgust he shared for those who hate on any and everything Islam for no reason was, to me, genuine. Here was this southern man, American, white, non-Muslim telling me, an American, second generation Indian, born Muslim, how much he hates Islamophobia and the people that propagate it.

“You know it’s ironic,” I added, “because there are probably people who so against Halal meat but end up eating Creekstone beef at a high end restaurant only they have no idea it’s actually Halal.” Rich laughed.

I then asked, “would it be okay for me to reveal to the public that Creekstone’s entire operation is Halal? I don’t want any sort of backlash for your business, especially is some crazy Islamophobe starts calling for a boycott of your products of something.”

“People buy from us because of our quality,” Rich said, unaffected by the possibility of backlash. “That type of information is not going to deter our customers. They’re going to continue to buy from us, so go ahead and let others know.”

Here was a company that stood for its quality even in the face of bigotry, and that’s something I can get behind.

Important tips on ordering

After all this settles in your head, you may be tempted to rush to a restaurant and start ordering some Creekstone beef tonight. But hold your horses; it’s not that simple. In fact, not doing your homework may lead to accidentally consuming non-Halal. I consulted with a trusted scholar and teacher the following checklist for ordering this beef. The scholar confirmed with me eating Creekstone beef at restaurants is “absolutely permissible” as long as the following precautionary measures are taken.

frontera_oaxacan_carne_asada_serious_eats
Oaxacan-Style Carne Asada: Red chile-marinated Creekstone steak at Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill [Photograph: Serious Eats]
Call ahead to gauge the restaurant

The best way to ensure you have a Halal Creekstone beef experience is to first and foremost make time to call ahead and see how accommodating and helpful the restaurant and staff are to your need to eat Halal. Ask to speak to the head chef or manager, and explain your religious dietary restrictions (below). If the restaurant honors its guests, they will accommodate you and allow you to speak to whoever needs to help you, allowing you to move forward through this list. Otherwise, don’t bother to make plans to go there and give them any business. Plus, a lot of these joints are a bit more formal and will require a reservation, anyway, so calling ahead is only going to help you.

Confirm the restaurant has Creekstone beef

Once you get good word from a restaurant, you’ll have to make sure they actually carry Creekstone beef. Most restaurants only have select beef cuts from Creekstone, while others have an all-Creekstone beef menu. For example, check out what happened when I reached out to Rick Gresh, head chef at David Burke’s Primehouse in Chicago.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Gresh, Rick
Date: Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 1:52 PM
Subject: Primehouse Beef
To: “Saqib Shafi”
Hello,

Thank you for your email, not all of our beef within the hotel comes from creekstone in the operation. We buy non creekstone ground beef for employee meals in the cafeteria, that is not butchered in house. All of the steaks served in primehouse are creekstone except the southside filet. Currently creekstone does not break down the cows necessary for this special cut. We would love to have you dine with us, please let me know if you have any other questions.

Sincerely,
Rick Gresh

Some restaurants have limited stock of whatever Creekstone cuts they’re ordering, so if you try to making plans to dine late on an evening, you may be out of luck. Calling ahead will help you the best. Head chef at Mon Ami Gabi in Oak Brook, IL told me he if I call ahead of time, he’ll place the order for Creekstone New York strip steak, and even better, any other cut I’d be interested.

Check for cross-contamination of meats

While the Creekstone meat a restaurant gets is Halal, you never know if it will touch other non-Halal meats in the preparation of the dish. Informing the chefs in advance will let them know to honor your needs.

Where this can really be an issue is in burgers. A restaurant may be grinding Creekstone beef freshly in house (and really, they should be grinding fresh!). You’ll want to confirm they clean their grinder between meats. I asked this to Chef Gresh, as well.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Gresh, Rick
Date: Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 2:35 PM
Subject: Re: Primehouse Beef
To: Saqib Shafi

It’s best if you have a steak.  The grinder is used for multiple items.  It’s clean and sanitized between each use of course.

Thanks,
RG

While his Email hints that I should go for the steaks instead to avoid any potential issues, I believe it was just Chef Gersh trying to be as accommodating and cautious as possible. Otherwise, of course restaurants at this level of quality will clean out their grinders between meats. To be safe, though, simply mention this need as part of your call and verify the grinder was cleaned before use and you’ll be good to go.

Ask for a clean cooking area and utensilts

Pans, griddles, and hardware are shared all the time in restaurants. To avoid having leftover juice and fat from other meats get into your Creekstone beef, ask the restaurants if they can ensure a cleaned cooking surface. For some places, this will be easier than others. At Epic Burger, I have heard one location cooks their beef in a specific area while other locations shared it for the burgers and the bacon. The location that shared the area, however, did mention to a friend that they will clean the flattop to cook you a burger, but not during peak hours such as lunch time. Call and plan ahead accordingly.

Ask dish is not prepared with alcohol or other meats

Alcohol used in preparation of steaks and beef roasts is definitely something to look out for. I even saw a few restaurants’ menus offering steak prepared “au jus” which is French for with a wine sauce. The steak will be seared in a pan, removed, then wine is added to scrape up and dissolve the bits left in the pan and create a flavorful sauce. Simply ask for a different sauce, one without alcohol. I’ve seen restaurants offer compound butters, blue cheese sauces, and more, all of which are super flavorful without any alcohol to worry about.

Occasionally, non-Halal meat may be used in conjunction with the Creekstone beef menu item, either in the form of broth or fat. David Burke’s dry-aged burger comes with a bacon mayonnaise which I’m guessing uses bacon fat in place of some of the oil used to emulsify a mayonnaise. The restaurant will have other options to replace items like that, especially if they’re higher-end. Calling ahead will really make sure this is taken care of for you.

Basic call procedure
  1. Nicely greet whoever picks up the phone
  2. Say you want to eat at that restaurant but have some special dietary needs
  3. Ask if you can speak to the head chef or manager if they can accommodate them
  4. Confirm they have Creekstone beef, if not if they can order it for a future day, if they can order any of the menu items or only specific ones, etc.
  5. Ask if the beef dish can be prepared with the following requirements
    1. Creekstone beef does not come into contact with other meats
    2. Cooking area and utensilts are cleaned
    3. Dish can be prepared without alcohol or any other non-Creekstone meats
  6. Thank them!

This news is life changing! Or is it?

Before posting this article, I told a handful of family and friends about this whole discovery. The reactions I received were pretty much all the same: shock from the news, questions about how it all works, then instant look up of restaurants and their menus.

“OH MY GOD,” some people said. “THIS HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.” Has it really? I’m not so sure, and here’s why.

A lot of the restaurants listed are pretty upscale establishments. So, firstly, the price point for many of the dishes are a lot more than what Muslims are used to paying at the average Halal restaurant. Just for example, a steak dinner at Lockwood Restaurant in the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago costs $50. That’s without drinks, tip, and parking downtown.

Dining Space at Lockwood Restaurant in the Palmer House Hotel, Chicago [Image: Haute Living]
Dining Space at Lockwood Restaurant in the Palmer House Hotel, Chicago [Photograph: Haute Living]
Secondly, how the beef is cooked and prepared can be an issue. With most ethnic Muslim cooking, cheap cuts of stew meat are used which is cooked low and slow for hours or quickly in a pressure cooker until the connective tissue in the meat converts into gelatin, giving the meat a different type of moisture even when cooked beyond medium rare. The type of steaks served at this restaurants aren’t like that. They have optimal juiciness when cooked to medium rare. Go beyond even medium, and the meat dries out.

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Dry Aged Creekstone Côte de Boeuf with Roasted Bone Marrow, top menu item at Minetta Tavern in New York, $145 [Photograph: Argus Guide]
When I asked some people who claimed this news changed their lives if they eat meat, they responded, “no way, I can’t eat anything remotely pink, medium well, at least.” I’m not sure if I’d describe the idea of paying average $50 for dried out piece of meat as life changing.

Add to that the fact that steaks are rested for a pretty long period of time to allow the juices to absorb back into the meat and the steaks usually seasoned only with salt in a lesser amount than super seasoned ethnic meat, you have beef that is way different than what many Muslims are used to; pink, lukewarm, and lightly seasoned. I remember once telling someone the reason only salt is used to season meat is to taste the actual flavor of beef. Their reaction? “Ick!”

Third, there’s the whole anti-red meat movement in the Muslim community which I’ve heard about in the past few years. Most Muslims I know are big time red meat eaters, especially men and especially lamb. But there are people who aren’t so into it, especially beef.

The weird part is, those same people were blown-away excited at this news, calling it life changing, yet also told me, “I actually don’t really like red meat.”

All these issues put together in light of the types of reactions I received taught me one thing. We’re more excited by the idea of something being Halal than actually eating the Halal meat itself. I’m not sure why that is, but it could be because Halal eaters have been deprived of options for so long that’s causing them to act this way.

Either way, there are many Muslims that do eat their beef this way when cooking at home and already visit these types of establishments to eat seafood and vegetarian meals that will be excited to hear this news. I’m happy to be able to share it with them.

How this can help establish Halal in America

It’s an exciting time for Muslim eaters in America. Upon sharing this news, one friend told me he knows of another Zabihah Halal operation that supplies their beef to restaurants, as well.

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Creekstone Farms booth at the International Restaurant and Food Show of New York [Photograph: Serious Eats]
Many of you will be thinking how can we get more restaurants to carry Halal meat? It comes down to raising your voice as a consumer. As John Cecela of Buedel Meats, Chicagoland purveyor of Creekstone told me, “tell your friends to talk to them.”

By showing support for companies like Creekstone by ordering their beef, we can raise awareness for Halal and open up more options for Muslims eaters throughout the country We have huge buying power, and with the near-obsession our community has when it comes to anything close to Halal meat, we can make our voices heard to these restaurant groups.

Who knows, maybe it starts with Creekstone, and will one day end up bringing Halal options all over the US. And why stay there, when we can convince restaurants and chains to get Muslim owned Halal meat businesses, pushing our Muslim businesses to up their game and product quality.

If this article has convinced you about this meat as an option for you, go and try some Creekstone beef out, making sure to do the checks on availability and cross contamination as mentioned above. Browse the menus of each of these restaurants or any in your area not listed above, go enjoy some of the best beef in the country, and let the restaurants know you appreciate them carrying Halal meat. It’s the next step needed to facilitate more Halal in America.

Until then, it starts with you picking up the phone and placing an order.

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Dry-Aged Steak from David Burke’s Prime Steakhouse, CT [Photograph: Connecticut Magazine]
The kitchens are open.

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