Monday, December 3, 2012

Capitol Grille Buys 225-Acre Farm To Raise Its Own Beef for Menu

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 2:30 PM

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  • Photo: john Guider
The Hermitage Hotel surprised a lot of observers in 2010 when it staked out its own farm on a historic Nashville estate so its acclaimed chef — Tyler Brown of the hotel’s restaurant, the Capitol Grille — could grow his own produce.

Plenty of chefs talk about their passion for securing the best local ingredients, but not every high-end hotel or restaurant decides to take the plunge into actual agriculture.

Now, after harvesting a couple seasons of fresh vegetables tailor-made to Chef Tyler’s tastes, the Hermitage has purchased a much larger farm — 225 acres — and plans to start raising beef cattle, not only to supply Brown’s kitchen, but also to sell to other restaurants.

The cattle will be grass-fed and raised in a sustainable manner, the hotel said, something that’s already being done on a small scale at Glen Leven, the garden plot the hotel operates in conjunction with the Land Trust for Tennessee.

The new cattle herd will roam Double H Farms, which is the name that the Hermitage Hotel has given to the property it recently purchased in Dickson County, about an hour west of Nashville. The land, established as a farm by the Duke family in the 1930s, is protected by a conservation easement that will preserve it as farmland.

In an announcement of the deal, the hotel waxed a bit poetic about the land: “Nestled in the hills of White Bluff, Tenn., and bordering Montgomery Bell State Park, Double H Farms is an ideal setting with creeks that are fed by natural springs from the park.”

It added, “This setting will allow for the rotation of cattle from one pasture to another to allow them to graze on the sweet grasses in the fields through a relatively simple process because of the infrastructure that already exists on the land.”

A James Beard Award semifinalist, Brown is one of the hot young chefs helping to raise Nashville’s profile on the national restaurant scene.

Brown and the hotel’s managing director, Greg Sligh, will oversee the farm’s operation. The chef has clearly relished his role as farmer growing exquisite heirloom vegetables at Glen Leven, and we imagine he’ll have even more fun supervising the herd at Double H.

Once the cow side of the operation is up and running (and beef sides being sold to interested restaurants in Nashville and beyond), the team plans to launch a grist mill on the property.

A version of this story appeared in my Food Biz column in this week's edition of The City Paper and online in the Nashville Post.

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