Octave Grill: The Start of a Local Legend

Written by Mike Siroky. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on January 11, 2011 with No Comments

By Mike Siroky

Grass-fed beef assists human health, promotes animal welfare and is good for the environment.

Plus, it tastes good.

Octave Grill exclusively uses grass-fed beef, from TallGrass farms.

Grass-fed cattle eat only hay and other herbaceous plants and their own motherís milk throughout their life cycle. The fertility program used in the operation ensures quality not quantity.

Indiana farms that produce grass-fed beef include: Other Side of the Fence Farm, Huntingburg; the Apple Family Farm, McCordsville; Fiedler Family Farm, Rome; Hoosier Grassfed Beef, Attica; Lehman Bros. Farm, Freedom; Pathway Pastures, St. Joseph; Seven Sons Meat Company, Roanoke; and the Swiss Connection, Clay City.

The Other Side of the Fence Farm is typical of these Hoosier farmers.

The animals are on a rotational grazing system with fresh grass and room to move about. They are never confined, nor are they given hormones, antibiotics, animal byproducts or drugs of any kind.

Animals are processed only after they are ordered. The cut, wrapped and frozen finished product can then be picked up at the farm or UPS shipping can be arranged.

Research shows steak and ground beef from grass-fed cattle are usually lower in total fat than comparable cuts from confinement-raised cattle. Although many people seek out grass-fed meat because of health or environmental concerns, they keep buying it because it tastes better.

Several organizations devoted to grass-fed beef:

ï Green Pastures, the nutritional report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, www.ucsusa.org

ï American Grassfed Association, www.americangrassfed.org

ï Hoosier Grassfed Beef, hoosiergrassfedbeef.com

Octave Grill: The start of a local legend

by Mike Siroky

A realization of the American Dream has taken flight in Chesterton.

Octave Grill, a rather special restaurant, has been open since July.

It is the creation of husband and wife team Casey and Sylvia Petro.

Casey Petro is a hometown guy. He attended Chesterton High School and graduated with a degree in culinary arts from Ivy Tech in Michigan City.

He then took a chefís tour of the eastern United States, from Illinois to Washington to Florida.

Like most good chefs, he was building a recipe for success, learning techniques and taste builders at each stop. And, mostly, he said, he was building experience moving around.

A couple of years ago, he married Sylvia and decided it was time to make another dream come true.

ìMy mom had this building in Chesterton. I always liked it,î he said. ìI had gathered up ideas. We finally just decided to do it.î

From the get-go, this hometown boy knew he wanted a hamburger place. But not just any hamburger place. And not even any hamburger.

His place would exclusively use TallGrass Beef, from the free-range herds of legendary TV man Bill Kurtis.

ìWe learned about Bill Kurtisí beef company. It is all grass-fed beef,î Casey Petro said. ìWe taste-tested it and I wanted to use just that.î

TallGrass got introduced to the area through Gordon Food Services.

TallGrass spokesman Michelle Martin is familiar with Octaveís story.

ìWe get referrals many ways,î she said. ìOur best is from other consumers on our Facebook site. Theyíll suggest ëjust the placeí that could use our beef. Then we make a contact, this time through Gordon.

ìWeíre all over Chicago, but this is the only area restaurant (in Northwest Indiana) where we have placed our products.î

Martin is a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., and works for TallGrass from Oklahoma. She is a champion of the small-town restaurants that strive to put together the charm and healthy menus that make their mark in blue-collar America.

ìOur beef has no additives,î she said. ìNo tricks to fattening them up. It is like serving what was available on the great cattle drives before the Civil War. In Chicago, we have several clients who are doctors. All these years, they had been telling their patients to skip beef and go to fish and chicken.

ìNow they can say, ëIf you are going to eat beef, hereís the healthy alternative.í I cannot imagine eating anything else.î

Most who have tasted grass-fed beef compare it to raising your own tomatoes then trying the hothouse variety. It is two different tastes entirely.

Kurtis was so impressed with the Octave Grillís offerings that he visited the restaurant personally, signed autographs and tried one of the headline-making hamburgers.

Casey Petro, for his part, agrees it is hard to describe why the hamburgers taste better. They just do.

ìWe hear it a lot; itís the best hamburger they ever had,î he said. ìYou can tell the difference in grass-fed beef. Maybe itís because there are no artificial hormones. Itís basically organic.î

And the hamburger offerings fit right in with his overall plan for Octave Grill.

ìI want to use locally-produced ingredients and healthy ingredients all the time,î Casey said.

ìItís an ëeat localí type of thing. You support the local area workers whenever you can.î

One of the local producers is wife, Sylvia, who produces all the baked goods in the place.

They also offer an ever-changing selection of local brews from microbreweries throughout the area, from Michigan City to South Bend to nearby Lake Michigan offerings.

So, things do change, but the hamburger and a beer idea permeate.

They never wanted a ìdress-upî place, but they have produced an unpretentious dining destination.

Over the holiday season, they saw familiar faces bringing in family and friends who were perhaps back in the area from college or to visit relatives.

ìItís a good feeling,î Casey said. ìThey feel comfortable and want to share their discovery. Weíre happy with the size of the place, with being able to always manage what we have.

ìTo be a place where friends can just be themselves.î

Now as for the name of the restaurant.

Casey liked the folklore of Octave Chanute, one of the original folks who dared to believe man could fly. He experimented with glider flights using the sand dunes of Lake Michigan as a natural launching pad.

Chanute was an amazing engineer, who designed and built two of the worldís largest stockyards, in Chicago and Kansas City.

He designed and built the first bridge to span the Missouri River, near Hannibal, Miss. He invented the pressure treatments with creosote which makes railroad ties and telephone poles last longer.

He was the first to certify the age of railroad spikes and wooden structures by using dare-stamped nails.

By the time of the Chicago Worldís Fair Exposition of 1893, he was gathering fans of aviation to the event to share ideas.

From there, he designed the hang glider whose form would be used by the Wright Brothers.

But he tested it in Northwest Indiana.

There is a plaque on a leftover glacier rock on the shores of a lagoon near the Miller Beach pavilion which certifies the test flights.

Casey likes the idea that another local boy was not afraid to test-fly his dreams.

ìSo the name is a tribute to him,î Casey said.

For more information on Octave Grill, located at 137 S. Calumet Road in Chesterton, call 219-395-8494, or find them on Facebook.

For more information on the TallGrass Beef Co., visit www.tallgrassbeef.com, or find them on Facebook.

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About Mike Siroky

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the above excellent column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Mike Siroky is a writer and editor. He is a native of Northwest Indiana. He has worked in media from coast to coast. To contact Mike, email mikel@the chronicleNWI.com

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