The Cow Massagers Union

We first learned about it on a reality television show.

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio is the head judge on Top Chef. He owns more than a dozen high-end restaurants around the country. Including our new fave, Craftsteak in Las Vegas.

Last season on Top Chef, Colicchio hauled the contestants to his restaurant and showed off his high-end beef. (!) They were to prepare dishes for actress Natalie Portman and her hangers-on.

When we were in Vegas a year ago, Jackie and I rolled the dice (sorry) and gave Craftsteak a shot. My first introduction to ambrosia on the hoof: Wagyū beef. Your Wagyū is big in Japan. It’s a breed of cattle known for its marbling characteristics and is genetically predisposed to taste better.

I’m not sure I could ask much more from a cow.

I ♥ Wagyū.

This year, we were eager to share our new-found love with friends who joined us in Vegas. Naturally, our biggest fear was they may not share our passion. What’s more, our friends know a little somethin' somethin' about beef.

The bar was set high.

“Matson. Party of six?”

The executive director of beef safety research and the vice president of owner-member services with the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (married to each other), the head of product marketing for Syngenta Seeds (married to a pharmacist), my wife (former high-level land grant university administrator) and… uh… me.

Bovine brainiacs. Livestock lovers. Cattle candlepower.

These people know their way around a cow.

It helps that Colicchio lists the ranches where the beef is raised right on the menu.

“Hey, we know these guys!”

Jackie and I subtly steered our friends (it’s an art) toward the Wagyū sampler, a collection of filet, ribeye, New York strip, flatiron and skirt steak.

They’re our friends and we’ve known them for years. But to an individual, they each came away raving. And it was not just ‘let’s be polite to Mike and Jackie because we know they like it’ raving.

Genuine, heartfelt raving.

What makes beef from your Wagyū cow so much better than beef from the cows at my friendly local neighborhood Kansas feedlot?

They’re massaged and they drink beer. I kid you not.

There’s a visual.

We didn’t see Natalie Portman or Elvis (though he’d have felt right at home).

“More Wagyū, King?”

“Thunkyuh, thunkyuh vurrah much.”

If you’re a steak connoisseur, you owe it to yourself to dine on Wagyū beef at Craftsteak at the MGM Grand in Vegas.

Fair warning. It’s not inexpensive. (That’s a double negative). It’s expensive.

By Vegas standards it’s not out of line. Applying Midwestern sensibilities, it’s obscene (cow massagers must have a strong union). So when dining at Craftsteak, it’s important not to apply Midwestern sensibilities.

Especially if you’re from the Midwest. And especially if you remember why you’re there.

Good food, good conversation. Good friends.