High Profile - Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant
Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant
Executive Chef Reagan
Harris Ranch’s history dates back to 1937, when Jack Harris and his wife, Teresa, founded what would become “An Oasis in California’s Central Valley” in the town of Coalinga. Since John Harris (Jack’s son) began pioneering the ranch’s uniquely-branded beef program in 1982, Harris Feeding Company in tandem with Harris Ranch Beef Company has made Harris Ranch California’s largest fully-integrated beef producer. Beef may be what Harris Ranch is primarily known for, but the Harris family has expanded it into an agribusiness that now encompasses 17,000 acres of prime farmland, where 35 varieties of vegetables, fruits, and nuts are grown year-round—and the Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant take full advantage of those offerings.
The Inn at Harris Ranch, built in 1987, is conveniently located on-site, mid-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco on Interstate 5. The California Hacienda-style resort features 153 rooms, and caters to vacationing guests as well as business travelers. If you fly there, you can even land on the property’s private landing strip. Take advantage of the hotel’s verdant courtyard, Olympic-style swimming pool, and a number of outdoor hot tubs, and be sure to try the Harris Ranch Restaurant Reserve wines when you visit the restaurants. With all the dining options available, the longer you stay the more you can try!
The Restaurant at Harris Ranch was one of the first to offer “farm to fork” cuisine, established in 1977. It has since grown that concept to include four culinary options for guests to choose from, each offering a unique dining experience. The newly opened Express BBQ allows visitors to grab a bite to-go, but they can also enjoy their food in a casual, outdoor atmosphere. Live music on weekend nights accompanies the full, signature menu for adults in The Horseshoe Bar, which is known for its lively, energetic atmosphere. Stop into The Ranch Kitchen for breakfast as early as 6 o’clock, but know you can gather with family and friends there for any meal of the day. Then there’s The Prime Steakhouse—one of the most renowned steakhouses in the West, where Harris Ranch Beef is the crown jewel of the menu and reservations are highly encouraged.
Executive Chef Reagan is at the head of Harris Ranch’s reputation as a culinary destination and respite. Chef Reagan’s story may have taken him away from Harris Ranch a couple times, but the knowledge he gained during those departures gave him invaluable experience and insight. Today, he relishes overseeing the Harris Ranch’s four dining options, whose kitchens serve an average of 1,500 meals every day.
Beef is in Chef Reagan’s blood. Most of his family works as cattle ranchers in northwest Texas, where he was born and raised. Chef Reagan’s family moved out to California, where they finally settled in Hanford in 1980, surrounded by the familiarity of ranches and fields. It was then that he joined the United States Marine Corps, which was his introduction to professional cooking.
The Marines recognized Chef Reagan’s talent in the kitchen immediately, so they sent him to train in the Marine Corps Service Support School, Combat Cooks, where he graduated first in his class. He then went on to continue his culinary education through the Noncommissioned Officer Food Service Course, graduating third in his class. The skills he acquired as a Marine went beyond cooking and baking; exercising discipline, organization, dedication, delegation, teamwork, and uniformity are the foundation of his culinary craft and leadership.
Chef Reagan served his country for eight years, until 1995, when he decided to return to the Central Valley. It was then that he began his culinary career at the Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant, starting as a line cook and being promoted to chief steward for three years.
Chef Reagan’s first departure from Harris Ranch resulted from a move to Orlando, Florida. The opportunity to work as a line cook at the prestigious Wolfgang Puck Grand Café presented itself, and he eventually worked his way up to kitchen manager before bringing his young family back to the Valley in 2003.
Upon returning, Chef Reagan worked as a sous chef for Giannola’s Italian Steakhouse and then Vida’s Steakhouse in his hometown of Hanford. But he went back to Harris Ranch as a sous chef in 2006, where he remained until he was given what he described as an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Reluctantly, Chef Reagan left Harris Ranch again to work as the Executive Chef at John D’s Steakhouse in Lemoore. He recalled that, “taking the opportunity to open a restaurant from the ground up gave me invaluable experience in the field … I have left and gained terrific experience in many other kitchens, however, Harris Ranch is the most rewarding company I have ever worked for, and the team I’m able to work for and with each day is the reason I’m still here today.”
Chef Reagan’s love of Harris Ranch ultimately brought him back to the restaurant in 2008, where it all started for him. Hired this time as Executive Sous Chef, he was promoted to Executive Chef in 2015.
Chef Reagan savors the opportunity to carry on the “farm-to-fork” tradition Harris Ranch is known for. With his mastery of “American Western Style” cooking, he loves to find new, innovative, and exciting ways to feature Harris Ranch Beef and its seasonal produce. “I have a deep understanding and appreciation of using locally sourced produce and creating seasonal dishes based on what we are growing right here in the Central Valley.”
In Chef Reagan’s spare time, he finds immense joy in tending to his own small garden. He also enjoys photography and traveling, especially along with his three children.
With the holiday season upon us, Chef Reagan has graciously shared a few of his favorite recipes with CVLUX readers here. Bon appetite!
Prime Rib Au Jus
Yield: about 2 cups
½ bottle of Harris Ranch Cabernet
2 cups beef stock
¼ cup shallots or red onions (finely diced)
Remove prime rib from roasting pan. Drain off excess fat.
Put shallots in pan and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add wine and stir, scrapping bottom to pick up any bits of prime rib stuck to the pan.
Add the beef stock and allow the liquid to reduce by about a quarter.
Serve with the Garlic & Black Pepper Prime Rib!
Prime Rib Seasoning
Yield: 3 cups
1 cup salt (kosher)
1 cup pepper (black, coarse grind)
1 cup garlic (granulated)
Mixed all ingredients together thoroughly.
Garlic & Black Pepper
Yield: 1 prime rib
1 prime rib roast (lip-on)
3 cups Prime Rib Seasoning
½ cup Harris Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 garlic bulbs (cut in half, seasoned with salt and pepper, drizzled with olive oil)
4 sprigs rosemary
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Pull prime rib roast out of the refrigerator to sit for two hours.
Place pre-seasoned garlic bulbs with the rosemary sprigs on the bottom of the roasting pan before placing the prime rib on top.
Put the roast in the oven for five minutes, then remove.
Cover the roast with olive oil and rub the seasoning over it evenly.
Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and roast for 2 to 2.5 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees. *Make sure the thermometer is calibrated.
Remove the roast from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before slicing to serve.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
Yield: 2 pies
2 lbs. pumpkin (solidly packed)
2 lbs. evaporated milk
1 lb. eggs (whole, beaten)
5 oz. honey
7 oz. sugar (granulated)
7 oz. sugar (light brown, packed)
¾ tsp. salt (iodized)
⅓ tsp. cinnamon (ground)
⅛ tsp. nutmeg (ground)
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly.
Store in refrigerator until needed.
Pour into unbaked pie shells and bake for 45 minutes, or until custard is set.