Heirloom HG visits Western North Carolina farm
On a hot summer day, cows grazed hilly, grass-covered fields. They clustered in the shade of the many trees dotting the landscape. A breeze blew, keeping the heat from intensifying. Mother cows moved slowly with their calves, looking for the most delicious grass.
Monday, August 1, Heirloom Hospitality Group owners, managers and cooks from Cúrate Tapas Bar and Nightbell visited Apple Brandy Beef in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. They have been sourcing beef from the family farm since January. Chefs receive a beef forequarter and break it down, sharing the meat between the two restaurants. Read more about the process on our earlier blog post, “Nose-to-tail beef program at Nightbell and Cúrate a testament to no-waste philosophy.”
Seth Church, a third-generation farmer who has been in North Wilkesboro all his life, spoke to the tour group. He said he is “fortunate that he gets to get up every day and live [his] childhood dream.” After earning an Agriculture Business Management degree from NC State, Church said he was ready to manage the 300+ acre farm.
Apple Brandy is “truly a family business,” as his parents and aunt work for the company, and the additional employees have become like family to Seth. They deliver to many restaurants across the state, as well as their one retail location at the Chop Shop in Asheville.
The famers employ a careful breeding program to get great results in marbling, meat yield and optimum health and performance. Genetic testing and DNA records help them track the best results, and they have found that cross-breeding is the most successful process, blending genetics using purebred Angus, Hereford and Charolais cattle. Church and his team work hard to prevent disease and illness in their cows, making sure cattle are vaccinated and grass is short to deter flies and scratches on the animals.
The team from Cúrate and Nightbell also visited Thomas Brothers Abattoir in North Wilkesboro, a fourth-generation family business that is USDA-inspected and –certified, where the cows are processed and the meat dry-ages for 14+ days. This process, Church said, “intensifies the favor and tenderness in the meat.” Ted Thomas led the group through his facility and explained the process, highlighting the importance of cleanliness and adherence to safety standards.
The trip was a perfect way for chefs to truly understand the care that farmers at Apple Brandy Beef put into raising and processing each and every cow. Their efforts are evident after one taste of the quality beef we serve at Nightbell and Cúrate – make a reservation and taste it yourself!