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ELITE MEAT Texas caterer Tom Perini was thrilled enough when he was asked to throw a barbecue for Russian president Vladimir Putin in Crawford last year. He never dreamed that ten months later he would be touring Moscow and St. Petersburg, teaching Russian chefs how to cook beef. "For President Putin's visit, we fixed tenderloin, catfish, and pecan pie," says Perini, who owns the Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap. "Afterward, he came out with a translator and told us it was the best beef he had ever had." One thing led to another, and in September the Texas Beef Council sent Perini to Russia to give seminars to 150 chefs. Both the Russians and the Texan experienced a bit of culture shock. "They're not used to well-marbled beef like we have," says Perini, "and they cook meat well-done." When he grilled a ribeye medium-rare, they were incredulous, he says, "But I told them, 'Just try it.'" The Russians were won over. For his part, Perini enjoyed the restaurants he visited. "They have duck and pâtés down to a science," he says, "and the caviar—I thought I had died and gone to heaven." But he can't help being a chauvinist: "I think some Texas beef would really round out their menu." To order a Perini Ranch Steakhouse smoked tenderloin, go to periniranch.com or call 800-367-1721.

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