Over the past four years I've had the pleasure of working with Olive Garden and Red Lobster, each providing me the opportunity to work with great people and learn new skills. I recently transitioned to the LongHorn Steakhouse team and the learning on my Darden journey continues. I was familiar with LongHorn's vision to become America's favorite steakhouse, the great taste of the Peak Season and Chef's Showcase items, and of course, our legendary steaks. However, I'm new to the beef industry and wanted to learn more about how it provides LongHorn with the great steaks we serve every day.
So I decided to take a short trip to Kempfer Cattle Company to learn from a rancher about how beef is raised in the U.S. and particularly here in Florida. Kempfer Cattle Company is a 25,000-acre family owned and operated ranch in Deer Park, Florida, an hour away from Darden’s Restaurant Support Center in Orlando. The Kempfer family has been in the ranching business since 1898 and today, the sixth generation is now working at the ranch. On my tour, I was shown the National Beef Quality Assurance Award, given to the family in 2013 as an outstanding beef producer that best demonstrates animal care and handling principles. The family is truly a leader in the industry with a high focus on quality and animal care principles.
I was amazed by the beauty and vastness of the ranch - it’s truly a paradise for wildlife. As I saw wild turkey, alligators and osprey, I learned how the Kempfers were not only ranchers, but great conservationists for Florida. The entire Kempfer family lives on the ranch and sees ranching as not only a family business, but a family tradition. During their summer vacations, many of the children help out on the ranch and select steer to show off at the local fair. My hosts knew almost each and every cow we encountered!
Kempfer Cattle Company primarily raises purebred Brahman cattle. The American Brahman was the first beef cattle breed developed in the United States and originated from cattle breeds imported from India. Brahman cattle are known for their extreme tolerance to heat and insects and are common in tropical and subtropical regions. In addition to raising cattle, the Kempfers have diversified their family business. Today they sell materials for building roads and own a sawmill, through which they produce and sell lumber, fence posts, mulch, wood chips and sawdust.
Darden’s Commitment to Beef Sustainability
My visit to the ranch was made possible through Darden’s relationship with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Florida Beef Council. Through these partnerships, we are learning more about the sustainability impact of cattle production in the United States. As global demand for beef increases, Darden is committed to ensuring sustainable use of resources throughout the supply chain to grow beef. To help cattleman address this challenge, the NCBA funded sustainability research to show how beef production can be managed in a more sustainable, environmentally responsible and socially diligent way.
Darden is active not only with NCBA, but also the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), which is an initiative to advance beef sustainability. The GRSB is made up of organizations from within the beef industry, environmental leaders, retailers and other industry partners to ensure practices involving the beef supply chain are environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable. In fact, just earlier this year, the GRSB released its draft of Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef and opened it up for public comments. The document identifies key areas in the beef value chain that ensures beef production is sustainable. These principles address every step of the supply chain from production to distribution to consumption, treating sustainability as a journey that requires shared participation. The draft principles are available at www.GRSBeef.org.
The people of LongHorn Steakhouse take pride in doing things the right way, and this is only possible through good partners and high-quality ingredients from farmers and ranchers like the Kempfer family. I had a wonderful time getting to know more of the people behind the brand and how they help us guarantee a high quality experience for our guests.
By: Heidi Schauer, Media & Communications Manager, LongHorn Steakhouse