Grilling Tips for Labor Day from Suzy Sirloin
Who is that woman striding down the streets of Manhattan, wearing a 10-gallon hat?
Suzanne Strassburger, aka Suzy Sirloin, is the fifth-generation of her family–and a rare woman, no pun intended–in the meat business.
Since 1865, the Strassburger family has been sourcing prime-aged beef for some of the top steakhouses and restaurants in New York City, including Smith & Wollensky, Peter Luger, Quality Meats, Locanda Verde and The Dutch, to name a few. “Instead of milk and cookies, if you came to our house as a kid, you got sliced steak sandwiches,” Suzy says.
She found her calling at the tender age of 5, when she asked her dad what he did for a living and he said he worked for grandpapa in the meat business. Instantly Suzy knew that she wanted to do the same thing. “I love meat, I never get sick of it,” she says.
Her mother, an artist who meditates and does yoga, inspired her to focus her business, Suzy Sirloin , on beef, lamb and pork that is vegetarian-fed and raised in a natural, humane environment, without antibiotics or hormones. Suzy works with small family farms, which she visits to make sure the animals are treated humanely. “Weʼve all heard the horror stories,” she says, “and itʼs changed a lot. The meat business has only gotten better as far as treatment of the animals and their environments.”
Suzy is President of Suzy Sirloin, Inc.; founder of The Sirloin Report , a leading industry resource; and recipient of a Masters of Beef Advocacy from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. (Who knew that you could get an MBA in beef?)
We caught up with her between steakhouse meals in New York City.
What makes meat natural?
“I believe in natural meat, and the market is growing about 30 percent per year. But people get confused. They think grass fed is the same as natural and organic, and they are three different things:
Natural contains no artificial flavors or ingredients, and is minimally processed. Beyond that, every producer has their own claims, for example, vegetarian fed, no hormones, no antibiotics.
Grass-fed: People donʼt know that every animal is grass-fed at the beginning. Then there are options: do the cattle go to a feed lot where theyʼre fed grain corn, wheat, or soybeans? Or do they continue to eat grass?
Grass-finished: The animals spend their entire lives grazing on pasture. This is becoming more and more popular.
Organic: To be USDA certified organic, every aspect has to be 100% organic. For example, the animals must be kept a certain distance from fences, from water, from other
animals. They can be grain-finished or grass-finished, but their feed has to be 100% organic.
What do you do when youʼre not promoting meat?
I travel. But no matter how far I go, I end up touring farms or cattle ranches–my friends take me. I may think Iʼm going to a wine tasting, and I end up on a sheep farm in New Zealand!
Suzy Sirloinʼs Tips for Grilling on Labor Day
*Buy the best meat you can afford.
*Buy it cold, serve it hot.
*Sprinkle with kosher salt, thatʼs what the top steakhouses use, for flavor and texture. *Flip your meat with tongs–donʼt pierce it with a fork, that will let the juices out
*If you are cooking patties or sliders, donʼt push them down with a spatula, for the same reason as above.
*On every package, thereʼs a safe handling instructions label–pay attention!
Oh, and what about that hat? Suzy wears it as a nod to the independent ranchers and farmers who work with her. “These are family farms with hard-working ranchers and farmers–they never take a day off, they want to produce the best,” she says. “Thatʼs why I wear a cowboy hat, in appreciation of them.”