Butchers, Bakers, & Candy Makers

Locals aim for a slice of the food industry pie


(page 9 of 10)

Rachel Leemis

Company: Monty’s Beef Company

Products: Piedmontese beef

Distribution: Direct to restaurants and a Royal Oak retail outlet; montysbeefco.com

Back story: The search for a better burger led Rachel Leemis down quite a different path than she originally intended. She’s now raising a herd of cattle with a distinctly Italian heritage here in the Midwest.

After working in everything from mom-and-pop to high-end steak restaurants, Leemis planned to go solo with a “casual burger joint.” Trying to find a product she loved led her to Italy — and Piedmontese beef. But there was a rub. Where to source it?

The question led her to a 72-year-old, fifth- generation Michigan farmer and Piedmontese cattle expert. But instead of opening a restaurant, Leemis decided to focus on developing the breed — and a market for it.

Leemis took the product on the road, knocking on a bunch of kitchen doors. Soon, Monty’s was supplying some of the better restaurants in the Detroit area (think Ocean Prime and Bacco).

Monty’s Beef opened a retail store in Royal Oak around a year ago. The next step is to grow the herd, because “200 acres in Michigan is not enough,” Leemis says. They now work with nine cooperative breeders.

“When I grow up I want to be Niman Ranch,” Leemis says, referring to the California-based nationally recognized brand.

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