Taste of Texas Night at the Ranch

The Wellborn 2R Ranch recently hosted members of the La Cima and Timarron Country Clubs from the Dallas area for a “Taste of Texas” dining event.  Twenty-four club members purchased advance reservations for the event, which included Texas wines and charcuterie served on the hour-and-a-half bus ride from the LaCima Club to the ranch.

The menu that Chef Brian and Chef Leo came up with was spectacular and featured all Texas grown products.

The event was the brainchild of Chef Brian Wilford, executive chef at La Cima Club, and his wife, Chef Leonor “Leo” Wilford, executive chef at Timarron Club. They have been featuring Wellborn 2R steaks on their restaurant’s menus for over nine months and love the fact that they know right where their beef comes from and how it was raised and handled. Their club members love the story about the ranch and the way the beef tastes, so the pair thought “a night at the ranch” would be a great opportunity to let their customers experience the ranch first hand.

“When you talk to people that have lived in the city their whole life, it’s hard to explain to them exactly how their food was grown,” says Chef Leo. “We thought of a ranch dinner as a great opportunity to actually show them where and how the Wellborn 2R beef they eat at our restaurants is raised. Plus, it was a really nice getaway for the members. Nice for people to know where their food comes from.”

Both chefs have over 20 years’ experience in the food and beverage industry. They both graduated from Johnson and Wales University, Miami, Florida with culinary degrees and have been working at some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country. With their talent and experience, they have created innovative menus of superb culinary creations that place great emphasis on quality and imagination. They love culinary challenges with diverse and delicious menus that all can enjoy ,without sacrificing the flavor.

With decades in the industry, both Chef Brian and Chef Leo have tasted the finest beef in the world, yet Wellborn 2R beef stands out to them. Enough for them to want to feature it on their respective menus.

“I have been a chef for a long time,” explained Chef Brian. “If someone tells me they have quality beef I am skeptical. But actually, truthfully, the Wellborn 2R meat has its own unique flavor and profile. The quality sets it apart. At the level I am at in my business, I have had some of the best beef in the world. I have had Kobe (Wagyu) imported from Japan and this beef stands next to it. Wet aged and dry aged, I have had it all and the Wellborn 2R beef speaks for itself.”

Chef Leo agrees. “A good meal starts with a good product,” she shared. “And this beef is it. Not only is it great tasting, it’s all natural. And that’s a big added bonus because that’s how we should all really be eating anyway.”

On the Taste of Texas night at the ranch on April 17, 2021, the chefs served up amazing appetizers featuring Gulf shrimp cocktails, Texas wild boar tenderloin and antelope mini tacos. The next four courses included a Corn Chowder Soup, Surf and Turf Salad with beef tartare nestled on a bed of arugula with corn tortilla crusted shrimp, Deconstructed Chile Relleno with a Oaxaco cheese chile relleno plated with Wellborn 2R Prime Coulotte cap (a.k.a. Sirloin Strip steak, or Picanha steak), and then the star of the show was a Wellborn 2R Texas Tomahawk, carved and served with a twice baked potato and roasted brussels sprouts, served with ancho espresso sauce and pecan beurre blanc. And for dessert, if anyone had room, a Smore’s bar was available for guests to construct gourmet tasting smores with additions ranging from strawberry sauce to roasted pecan butter.

Advance Wine Sommelier Jason Hisaw was on hand with a variety of Texas wines paired for each course. He guided the guests through the tasting experience of each wine, how it was grown and why it was paired with each course. Having everything served grown in Texas made this event extra special, and extra appreciated by guests.

Stan and Esther Rippel have been enjoying Wellborn 2R Steaks at the La Cima Club’s Twenty-Six Restaurant and Bar for several months now. When they had the opportunity to visit the ranch where the beef they love is raised, they jumped at it. And they enjoyed every minute of it.

“We love Wellborn 2R beef and I can’t tell you how much Esther and I enjoyed the Taste of Texas dinner,” said Stan Rippel of the event. “To say it was a class act would be a gross understatement.

“Very seldom do you ever see the beef you eat at their actual source,” Rippel continued. “It means the world to me and my wife to know the exceptionally high quality standards that are maintained at this source. And to have this source literally one-and-a-half hours away means, bottom line, I can touch the beef I’m eating.”

Esther and Stan Rippel visiting with Wellborn 2R Ranch Butcher Mike Donathan.

The Rippels, along with the other guests, got to meet our butcher, Mike Donathan, and see black Angus cattle grazing in the pastures, and eat in our ranch house that sits on a hilltop overlooking the wide open ranges of the ranch. Guests got to socialize and walk around the ranch, and enjoy ranch life, even if just for a few hours. They got to watch Chefs Brian and Leo and their staff cook right in front of them and answer questions as they went along.

“The members really had a good time,” Chef Leo said of the event. “Cooking in front of everyone is the fun part. We both enjoy that a lot – even talking about the dishes and interacting with your customer is a fun part of the job.

“It was nice for us to get out of the kitchen and be able to provide both our members and our staff that experience,” she added.  “Our staff got to see the cattle, the ranch crew and the butcher shop – which was really cool for them. It ties it all together for them.”

About the Chefs:

Chef Brian (Brian Wilford) Bio:

Executive Chef Brian Wilford uses his diverse experience, attention to detail, and creativity to tantalize your taste buds with every dish. From being the brain-child of the first all avocado inspired restaurant in DFW, to providing unique magic moments for each of our Members and guests, Chef Brian’s culinary expertise and personal connections truly make each dining experience at the Club a cut above the rest.

Chef Brian Wilford

Chef Brian is a 2000 graduate of Johnson and Wales University, Miami, with a degree in Culinary Arts Science and Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management and has over 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. From working as a Sous Chef at the Raleigh Hotel, to the Executive Sous Chef at the Delano Hotel, to the P.M. Executive Sous Chef at the House of Blues Downtown Disney, to the Executive Chef at the Marriot Las Colinas, Chef Brian has consistently grown throughout his career. Before joining the La Cima Club team, he also worked closely with several notable Dallas-area chefs including Tim Love at the Lonesome Dove and Steven Pyles while opening the Sky Canyon at Love Field in DFW. Most recently, Chef Brian was the Culinary Lead and R&D Chef for Avocados from Mexico where he showcased his talents developing unique recipes.

Chef Brian has been a key part of the La Cima experience since May 2019 and looks forward to continuing to build relationships, create memorable experiences, and connect with all of the Members and guests he has the opportunity to serve.

 Chef Leo (Leonor Wilford) Bio:

Executive Chef at Timarron Country Club, Leonor Wilford, has over 22 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. Chef Leo is an alumnus of Johnson and Wales University Miami, where she earned a Culinary Science Degree and Bachelor in Hotel/Restaurant Management. While attending Johnson and Wales University, Chef Leo started working in several well-established restaurants in the Miami Beach area, such as Cheeky Monkey in the boutique hotel Blue Moon; The Leslie Hotel on Ocean Drive; and The Gaucho Room at the Lowes Hotel. Upon graduation, Chef Leo accepted her first Sous Chef position at Nobu Miami in the Shore Club Hotel.

Chef Leonar “Leo” Wilford

After kick-starting their culinary careers in Miami, Chef Leo and her husband, Chef Brian Wilford (La Cima Club Executive Chef), decided to start a family. Having their daughter Tamara made Chef Leo take a change of course in her career, which lead to her working for Sodexo as a District Chef for Keller ISD. At the beginning, just like many chefs, she was not sure what this role would bring. While with Sodexo, Chef Leo discovered that this was an area of the food industry that was very ignored by the professional Chefs like herself. This pushed her to be an advocate for improving the quality of food served in school districts.

While working to improve the food quality for Keller ISD, she brought in fresh produce and meats, improved food presentation and culinary skills, worked on program development and marketing, became the district safety coordinator, and developed the first school coffee shop concept. Her successes in this role lead to her traveling through Texas training Child Nutrition employees and developing their culinary skills, which eventually lead to her role as the Area Executive Chef for the Fort Worth ISD where she oversaw 134 schools. During this time, Chef Leo did not want to lose skills that she acquired while working in fine dining establishments, and she wanted to continue exploring her culinary creativity, so she and her husband started doing Private Chef Dinners.

Although Chef Leo believes it is important for professional and talented Chefs to get involved in improving the quality of food provided to kids through the school system, she missed being able to create freely. That passion to create drove her to Timarron Country Club.

Chef Leo’s style is creative and simple, and she believes every plate should be a work of art and as visually appealing as it is delicious!

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