by John Batchelor
Seth and Jenn Church have operated Apple Brandy Beef since they graduated from college in 2004. Seth grew up on the family farm, then went to North Carolina State University, where he earned a degree in agriculture business management. He met his wife, Jenn, at N.C. State. Her degree is in animal science. She also operates Hidden Creek Stables, a facility for riding lessons and horse training.
Apple Brandy Beef is truly a family business. For the first two years of the operation, Seth’s mother and aunt made all the deliveries, in order to hold down costs. Seth’s mother is still the bookkeeper, Jenn handles advertising and web design, and Seth’s father, although supposedly retired, is on hand every day. The operation has now grown enough to add an employee for deliveries.
The Churches share pasture land with other family farms that raise cattle of the same breeds. The Apple Brandy Beef line is the “best of the best” of the cattle raised on the property. The Hereford and Angus cattle eat all-natural diets completely free of animal by-products. “For generations, our family has selected specific genetics in an effort to produce a superior cow herd,” the Apple Brandy Beef website says. “We know the pedigree and complete history, including exact age, of each animal that goes into our beef program. On our farms we do not use synthetic hormones or antibiotics, except for medical necessity.”
Cattle are finished on a specially formulated diet that enhances marbling and flavor. They are harvested at an appropriate age, then dry-aged for a minimum of 14 days. Cattle are processed at Thomas Brothers Abattoir in North Wilkesboro, a fourth-generation family business that is USDA-inspected and -certified.
The Chop Shop in Asheville is the Apple Brandy Beef retail outlet. Beef packages can also be purchased directly from the website and shipped frozen. Christmas gifts of frozen packaged beef are especially popular. Orders from the website are shipped all over the United States.
Apple Brandy Beef
3746 Mountain View Road
North Wilkesboro, N.C. 28659
This article is excerpted from Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants and Recipes from Western North Carolina (Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, Publisher, 2012). Order from the publisher, or autographed by the author at no extra charge from firstname.lastname@example.org.