Stephen here, Acabonac’s owner and chief rancher. I’d like to share a bit about my relationship to Ukraine and tell you why Acabonac has chosen to support Ukrainians by donating 50% of profits from the sale of our grass-finished Delmonico steaks for the next month.
My paternal grandparents are from Ukraine. They grew up in unimaginable poverty. My grandfather never attended one day of formal schooling. Why? His parents couldn’t afford to buy him shoes (… a requirement to attend grade school in his small village). Both my grandmother and grandfather grew up on large Ukrainian farms. They worked long hard hours as children and young adults.
During WWII my grandparents were sent from Ukraine to a work camp in Germany. At the end of the war, the American government offered them the opportunity to start a new life in the USA. Once through Ellis Island, they did not go far settling in Astoria, Queens NY where they lived for the remainder of their lives raising their family in a tight knit Ukrainian American community. But my grandparents never forgot Ukraine, regularly sending money and supplies back ‘home’. I remember them regularly packing boxes of Tylenol, eye drops, clothing, and electronics, all destined for Ukraine.
Growing up, I visited with my grandparents every holiday. They’d always invite their Ukrainian friends who lived nearby in Astoria. I remember vividly the size of my grandfather and his friends – absolute mountains of men. Chiseled faces, calloused hands the size of baseball gloves, always laughing so loudly that I’d need to cover my ears. Each one of them worked multiple jobs. Most were window cleaners – cleaning the exterior of NYC’s skyscrapers-all work ethic, grit, love, cigarettes and smiles. I learned many valuable life lessons by watching these men.
My grandparents are no longer with us, having passed several years ago. Their story however is a powerful memory that informs my view of Ukraine today. As an adult I've been fortunate to spend significant time in Ukraine. I’ve developed friendships and relationships with people from Donetsk to Kyiv. For me, and so many others, Ukraine represents a sense of home and my roots to the region run deep.
What is happening now to the people of Ukraine is truly horrific. I speak to my friends in Ukraine as often as possible these days. What I find most amazing is how strong and truly fearless they seem. They are working hard, selfless and brave, and I’ve not heard one complaint. They are absolutely focused on getting through this. And I can’t say that I’m surprised because this is exactly how my grandparents lived their lives.
While it feels like there is not a lot we can do here on Long Island, we still want to help, and invite you to help alongside us. Thank you for inviting us into your homes and finding a place for our beef at your dinner tables. When the complexities of the world begin to weigh heavily, our shared sense of community makes all the difference.
Delmonico's For Ukraine Program
For the month of April, Acabonac Farms is donating 50% of profits from sales of our Delmonico steaks to chef José Andrés' nonprofit World Kitchenorganization.
Much like the brave people of Ukraine, José Andrés is known for his "get it done" approach to philanthropy. Bringing lifesaving meals and water to areas where it is needed the most, when it is needed the most. All while remaining humble and keeping the focus of his efforts where it belongs, on the people in need.
World Kitchen is at this moment distributing thousands of meals to people across Ukraine, and we couldn't think of a better, more worthy organization to support.