What do a cattle rancher and a plastic surgeon have in common? It’s not a joke, but truly the love of good beef. For the last 15 years, Doug Boatwright has raised cattle on his farm in Holmes County just north of Defuniak Springs, along with horses, pigs and chickens too. Boatwright, who holds a degree in cattle management from Mississippi State, said, ” I had been on the quest for homegrown beef. My original vision was farm-to-my-table, until I saw that there was a need.” His family was producing just enough for their household, and for regional sales of half and whole cows.
At a social meeting a few years ago, Boatwright and Dr. Scott Ennis of Destin Plastic Surgery crossed paths, and began diving into a conversation about their mutual passion for eating clean. Ennis’s vision for buying healthy beef for his family was in line with what Boatwright was already doing, so the unlikely pair decided to form a partnership. The goal was and is to make local high quality beef available to all, but in convenient sizing for the home cook and small scale restaurants.
Boatwright, however, did not have a large enough herd, and said, “ I reached out to other ranchers in nearby Walton and Holmes Counties that produced low stress, pasture and grain fed meat like I do. They are my friends with good herds, practices, and I’m comfortable with them.”
With that, a new business was born, but it needed a name. Dr. Ennis’s daughter was studying French at the time and overheard the pair discussing their happy cows. She gave a plug for the name to be heureux, meaning happy, fortunate and good in English translation. The fit could not be more perfect.
Heureux cows are raised in small groups with access to pasture grass and are hand fed non-GMO locally grown vegetables, such as soy, corn and peanuts. Commodity and by product feeds are never used. The ranchers also do not use growth hormones (as none can), or unnecessary medicines. Boatwright is hands on, right down to the USDA certified humane processor, and said, “I need to be there for the animal and for quality control. I know what the customers and individuals are looking for, and I often cut the steaks we sell.”
Most of the steaks are 21-day dry aged, but patrons can custom order over 50-day dry aged. “We are the only ones dry aging our own beef in the South that I am aware of. This is not your wet aged, cryovaced beef found in the grocery store”, explained Boatwright.
Both business partners agree that the beef is not as lean as grass fed, and they prefer it that way, as they feel it has better flavor and tenderness. Obviously, many award-winning restaurants are in agreement too, as Seagar’s located in the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort and Spa, Tim Creehan’s Cuvee 30A, and all of the Florida gastropub locations of The Craft Bar are just a few that are using Heureux beef.
With the popularity of the beef, and Boatwright’s knowledge and history of raising hogs, pork is now available as well. If perusing the Heureux website, you will also find delicacy items such as oxtail and beef liver.
Heureux is selling their products direct to consumers at Destin Ice and Seafood in Downtown Destin, and at the Grand Boulevard Farmer’s Market at Grand Boulevard in South Walton on Saturday’s from 9am to 1pm. When you buy direct from a farmer, you’re engaging in a time-honored connection between eater and grower. Knowing your farmer gives you insight into the seasons, the land, and the food you are consuming. This is something that is very important to me.
Boatwright, proud of his business, said with a smile, “Eat more Heureux! We are serving a quality, clean, local product, produced by our family for your family. It could not get any better!”
For more information about Heureux, to purchase products online, or to make contact with a representative, visit www.heureux.com.
Susan Benton is a food, travel and lifestyle writer and the owner of 30AEATS.com, where she shares her passion for cooking and her commitment to promoting farmers, fishermen, chefs, artisans, and restaurants along the Florida Panhandle. Look for her cookbook to be released this year.