Building a Better Burger
Skip the middleman. That’s always been the advice of shoppers looking to avoid unnecessary markups.
That was Chef Julius Kalman’s motivation for finding an alternate source of prime beef for the steaks and burgers sold at Canyons of the Blue Ridge in Blowing Rock.
“I got tired of paying high prices for prime beef from food purveyors,” Kalman said. “It got to the point where our customers would have to pay extravagant sums for a good steak. So, I decided to cut out the middleman.”
Kalman’s solution to the dilemma was to raise his own cattle. After discussions with lifelong farmer Stephen Weavil, the two men joined forces to raise their own cattle to provide affordable and high-quality beef to local restaurants.
Their new enterprise, Circle W Farms, is located in rural Forsyth County, a little more than an hour’s drive from the High Country. Eight months ago, Kalman and Weavil began purchasing cattle and presently have a herd of approximately 20.
“We provide ground beef, ground chuck and filets to several restaurants in the High Country,” Kalman said. “Every two weeks, we bring it to Canyons, Bistro Roca, Vidalia and now CoBo.
“We’ve had nothing but great reviews from the customers and the chefs. All of our stuff is prime beef — grain-fed, free-range, with no hormones or antibiotics. It’s a costly way to raise cattle, but it produces a better beef product.”
Kalman also feels that providing restaurants with beef raised locally limits the amount of environmental pollution in the form of fossil fuels from transportation, while helping to stimulate the local economy.
“And we’re able to pass the savings on to the customer,” Kalman said. “We can sell a 14-ounce prime rib-eye and side dishes for $25. Anywhere else, you would have to pay $40 or $50 for a steak of that quality.”
For Canyons owner Bart Conway, offering locally raised beef is just one part of the restaurant’s efforts to be a leader in “green” environmental practices. The restaurant also purchases locally grown vegetables and even has its own herb garden.
Kalman’s beef is finding its way into a number of Canyons dishes, including flank steak fajitas, strip steak dinners and gourmet hamburgers. A couple of weeks ago, the burger du jour was a half-pound burger prepared with shaved white truffles, caramelized onions and Vermont white cheddar cheese.
Kalman also utilizes beef cuts for dishes, such as sirloin, rib-eye, short ribs and his specialty, a mouth-watering brisket recipe.
Kalman and Weavil plan to expand Circle W Farms’ production, but said that they will never sacrifice the free range area and natural raising process, as these are cornerstones of their farming philosophy.
Circle W Farms will provide beef to a limited number of local restaurants. If you are interested in more information about Circle W, email chef and owner Julius Kalman at (firstname.lastname@example.org) , or contact him at (336) 566-8567 or farmer and owner Stephen Weavil at (336) 416-6571.
Got restaurant news? Email editor Frank Ruggiero at (email@example.com) , or call (828) 264-6397.