When pro golfer Luke Donald won Japan’s Dunlop Phoenix tournament in November, his spoils included a Miyazaki Wagyu cow, possessor of magnificently marbled flesh that’s legendary among epicures. What he didn’t win: instructions for getting $80,000 worth of beef through customs.

So Donald did what any athlete with gourmet inclinations and a live luxury cow stuck in Japan would do—he contacted Nick Kokonas, a partner in Chicago’s fine-dining restaurant Alinea. Kokonas in turn called Shane Lindsay, the founder of Lynnwood distribution company Northwest Earth and Ocean. He’s a rare man who specializes in high-end beef and speaks Japanese. (Lindsay has since sold his company to Kurt Dammeier of Beecher’s cheese.)

After convincing tournament officials that Donald didn’t want the cash equivalent, Lindsay solved the dilemma by connecting with a Japanese processing—aka butchering—plant that had jumped through enough hoops to earn USDA approval. Giant primal chunks of Donald’s prize finally arrived at Northwest Earth and Ocean in late April, where the staff portioned it into steaks for delivery. “It’s really not even beef, it’s like a 500-pound lump of foie gras,” says Lindsay. “They tried to give
him a check and he’s all, ‘No, man, I want the beef.’ ”


Published: July 2013

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