On Friday, August 20, Wasim Chaudhry died of complications from Covid-19 at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill. Chaudhry is the son of Abdul and Shamim Chaudhry, founders of Chaudhry’s Halal Meats, one of the few independent meat processors in the Carolinas. The Chaudhry family is well-known throughout North Carolina’s agricultural community. Wasim was 33 years old.
Wasim was born in Siler City, the same central North Carolina town where his father emigrated from Pakistan at age 16, and where the Chaudhry family began slaughtering animals on an uncle’s farm, when they realized they could not find halal meat in the community (halal literally means “permissable” in Arabic and refers to the process of slaughtering according to the tenets laid out in the Quran). After bootlegging the business for over a decade (under the radar of the USDA), selling mostly to other Arab and Muslim families via word of mouth, Abdul purchased and refurbished a nearby processing plant and made the business legit. Today, Chaudhry’s Halal Meats has nearly 30 employees and is the only approved beef processor in the state for Whole Foods.
Eventually Abdul and his wife stepped back from the business, passing day-to-day operations to their sons Wasim and Atiq. They continued to serve the states Arab and Muslim populations with certified halal meat while also expanding to become the processor of choice for North Carolina’s growing sustainable agriculture community. Today Chaudhry processes for large and small farms and businesses across the state, like Baldwin Grassfed Beef in Yanceyville and Durham-based Firsthand Foods.
Firsthand Foods co-owners Jennifer Curtis and Tina Prevatte Levy, some of Chaudhry’s biggest customers, came to know Wasim as they worked with him to grow their pastured meat business. In a remembrance on Instagram they wrote:
Our hearts have been heavy these last several days, since we learned of the passing of a dear friend and colleague. Wasim Chaudhry...was someone we spoke to weekly, if not more. Sometimes these were difficult business conversations...but Wasim always met us in those conversations with kindness, understanding, and a willingness to do what he could to meet Firsthand Foods needs, to help us grow and succeed and keep our customers happy. Because that’s who Wasim was to everyone who knew him: kind, warmhearted, smart, hardworking, and quick with a laugh or his charming smile.
Wasim is survived by his parents, Abdul and Shamim, his brother Atiq, sister Aminda Abdallah, four year old daughter, Alaya, and his wife Rabiba Ibrahim, who is currently pregnant with the couple’s second child. It is not known at this time if Wasim was vaccinated against COVID-19. Wasim was buried in a private service in accordance with Muslim tradition the day after his passing, on August 21. His full obituary can be read here.