Prized and pricey, high-grade Japanese A5 Wagyu beef is a particular passion for chef Steve Brown and the focal point of his long-running pop-up series CosechaSD, which has toured the U.S. and Canada doing dinners showcasing the luxury product.
Brown was set to embark on another multi-city tour when the COVID-19 shutdown struck. Stuck with a stock of Japanese, Australian, and U.S. Wagyu, as well as Kobe beef, the chef pivoted quickly to pack and sell the cuts directly to home cooks via delivery or pickup from his South Bay commercial kitchen. Business for the virtual butcher shop has been so good that it’s spawning a permanent storefront — called Swagyu Chop Shop — which is scheduled to debut in mid-July in Imperial Beach, Brown’s hometown.
Open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the butcher shop will sell a wide range of Wagyu sourced from all over the world, including a Montana ranch that Brown has partnered with. Striving to also carry more affordable cuts, including lower-priced steaks, chicken, and burger patties, Swagyu will offer a single prepared food option, a Wagyu burger served with the chef’s signature “nitro” potatoes, which are frozen with liquid nitrogen before frying.
Although a previously-announced restaurant project at The Keating Hotel has since dissolved, the chef has found a new base for his pop-up. Dubbed The Dining Room “TDR” by Cosecha, it is a private dining space in the South Bay that holds a single 25-foot, live-edge redwood table and can only be booked online. Available for parties of eight to 16 people, Brown offers a nine, 16, or 22-course tasting menu that ranges from $150 to $300 per person. Aiming to be an all-inclusive dining experience, The Dining Room picks up guests from their home or a central location and chauffeurs them to the restaurant and back by Sprinter van.