Andy’s Story: From All Black to All Black Origin Wagyu Beef


I met the founder of Black Origin, Arato Tsujino, in Japan after I finished my All Black career in NZ and went to live and play rugby for Kobe Steelers, the home of the famous Kobe beef in Japan. It was there that I developed a deep appreciation for Wagyu beef, particularly the high-quality product from Kobe. So, when the opportunity to get involved with Black Origin and their exceptional beef arose, I jumped at the chance. 

Black Origin is a Canterbury-based Wagyu beef producer that combines ancient Japanese techniques with New Zealand farming methods to produce perfectly marbled beef by applying the principles defined by the Japanese definition of Wagyu, with "Wa" (和) translating to "harmony and peace" in English, and "gyu" (牛) meaning "cow" or "cattle". 

Arato Tsujino, the founder of Black Origin, has implemented the Japanese concept of "Wa" (和) to produce Black Origin Wagyu Beef in New Zealand. This approach has resulted in a significant reduction in nitrogen leaching, methane production, and water use. Moreover, the animals are cared for more like humans, with a balanced diet, and the shelter from the hot sun or cold weather.

What sets Black Origin apart is its commitment to sustainability. The farm barn captures 100% of the effluent in the form of compost and distributes it back onto the farm, minimising its carbon footprint and creating a nutrient cycle while maximising land productivity. The company's dedication to quality and sustainability is evident in every aspect of its operations.

The process of raising Wagyu cattle is meticulous and takes around three years. The cattle are raised on pasture, then transitioned to a diet of a special blend of New Zealand grain, carefully designed to enhance marbling that appeals to the most discerning customers who require their Wagyu to have the scent, taste, marbling, and genetics consistent with the best Wagyu beef, while also meeting the standards of some of the best Japanese chefs. 

The Wagyu from Black Origin has already received rave reviews from chefs, and it's now available in restaurants and for home cooks through online sales. The marbling of the beef means that cuts traditionally used for stews can now be enjoyed as steaks, offering a new and delightful culinary experience.

The story of Black Origin Wagyu is one of harmony and quality, rooted in centuries-old Japanese traditions and brought to life in the pristine landscapes of New Zealand. The brand's commitment to sustainability, quality, and contributing to society sets it apart as a leader in the world of Wagyu beef.

So, if you're looking to elevate your culinary experience and savour the world's tastiest beef, my favourite cuts are Rump Cap, Skirt Steak, Bavette, Flat Iron, Tri Tip and Short Rib. I highly recommend incorporating Black Origin Wagyu into your diet. It's not just about enjoying exceptional beef; it's about embracing a legacy of harmony, quality, and a commitment to the environment and people.

Andy Ellis

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