15th Anniversary Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa- Part One

DG8_0055This was the fifteenth year for the Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner Weekend. The main event is a farm-to-table dinner held on Saturday evening at the Embassy Suites in Des Moines honoring the network of family farmers who supply pork to Niman Ranch. The event is free of charge for the farmers. Seven highly acclaimed chefs from across the country – all of whom are true culinary leaders and influencers in their regions and understand that good food starts at the farm – traveled to Iowa to tour a farm that is part of the network of farmers who supply Niman Ranch  and to cook this six course meal in celebration of these farmers.

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Chef Profile: Alex Yellan

Alex Yellan photoChef Alex Yellan traveled from Brooklyn, NY, to cook at our 15th Annual Niman Ranch Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner. Meet Alex and, if in New York, stop by Pok Pok Ny.

Alex grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where he started his culinary career as a brunch cook at his parents’ business. He attended University of Oregon where he began traveling abroad and learning about different cuisines of Mexico and Spain.

Following his passion for food, after graduating from college, he began working at DF Mexican restaurant in Portland, OR. But, the desire to travel quickly returned and he spent nine months travelling in Mexico, Central, and South America. Returning to Portland, he returning to DF Mexican, and helped open Kenny and  Zuke’s Delicatessen.

Alex’s next move was to Alex Ricker’s Pok Pok in Portland where he worked for over a year before moving to New York City. In New York City he cooked seasonal American food at Back Forty and then returned to Mexican cuisine at Empellon Taqueria where he was on the opening team and sous chef.

Alex rejoined Chef Ricker after being asked to open Pok Pok Wing and then Pok Pok Ny where he currently works as Kitchen Manager overseeing the daytime prep.

We thank Chef Alex Yellan and his team at Pok Pok Ny for their support of Niman Ranch and our community of independent family farmers.

Chef Profile: Jodie Rogers and Clark Norris

CHEF JodieChefs Jodie Rogers and Clark Norris joined us from Deer Valley Resorts to cook for our hog farmers at the 15th Annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa. Meet them:

Jodie Rogers serves as the executive chef of Snow Park and Empire Canyon Lodges.  Rogers’ job as executive chef entails operations of all Snow Park and Empire Canyon Lodges restaurants and food events, including banquets; breakfast and lunch cuisine at the day lodges; cuisine for the child care and ski school programs; après-ski appetizers in the Snow Park Lounge and the evening Seafood Buffet.  In addition, she oversees all food and beverage operations at the Empire Canyon Grill including Fireside Dinning which is offered every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings.  Rogers’ also spends her summers overseeing all banquets at the Resort.


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Chef Profile: Kevin Sbraga

Chef-Kevin-Sbraga-Headshot-“Make things happen.”

That’s the mantra that celebrated Chef Kevin Sbraga reminds himself of daily to keep his focus on why he works in the competitive culinary world and what he wants to achieve.

“I’ve always made goals for myself,” says the chef, winner of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef: Season 7” and owner of modern American Sbraga in Philadelphia. “I put myself in positions that have room to grow. I’m not one to sit around and wait, so I make things happen on my own.”

In 2008, Sbraga—who had previously held positions in Atlanta and Philly kitchens—applied that philosophy to his consulting work with Jose Garces to test recipes for the chef-proprietor’s Latin Evolution cookbook. Sbraga impressed Garces with his dedication, which ultimately earned him a full-time role as culinary director of Garces Restaurant Group.

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Chef Profile: Jack Riebel

Blog Aug 13 2013I choose Niman Ranch pork not just for its marvelous flavor, but for the marvelous story it has to tell.”- Jack Riebel – Butcher & The Boar- Minneapolis, Minnesota

Executive Chef Jack Riebel combines over 20 years of leadership and experience in some of the finest restaurants in the Twin Cities including Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant (Minneapolis), La Belle Vie (Stillwater), Goodfellow’s – An American Restaurant (Minneapolis). Recent awards include Minnesota Monthly’s Food & Wine Experience Local Chef Challenge, The American Cheese Society Chef Cook Off and most recently a James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef Midwest & Best New Restaurant.

Today, finely crafted food tuned to the Midwestern palate come together in Chef Riebel’s hands at Butcher & the Boar. With a love of seasonal foods and a touch of heat, Chef Riebel draws inspiration from food and drink found in regions across America. Born and raised in St. Paul, Riebel’s Minnesotan roots inspire handcrafted meals that are packed
with flavor and served in a communal dining environment. Chef Riebel’s menu appeals to the cooler side of Minnesota, and we’re not talking weather.

We thank Chef Riebel and his team for their commitment to humanely raised meats.

Chef Profile: David Bull

Chef David Bull_Congress_low resGrowing up in his family’s restaurant, David Bull learned the inner workings of a kitchen and the role a restaurant plays in the community. These experiences not only showed him his love of cooking, but also taught him that creating lasting memories through taste, smell and the feelings associated with them, connects people to each other. He believes a restaurant is responsible for growing these bonds and giving back to the community that supports it, and that philosophy drives everything he does at Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen and Bar Congress.

Chef Bull graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1994, and then joined The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas. He moved quickly through the ranks at The Mansion to earn distinction as the youngest-ever sous chef employed by the venerable hotel. He then moved to Austin, serving as executive chef of the Driskill Grill, where he and his team earned the Austin American-Statesman’s “Number One Restaurant Award” for three consecutive years. With Chef Bull at the helm, USA Today recognized the five-star Driskill Grill as one of the country’s Top 50 Hotel Restaurants.

Food and Wine Magazine honored Chef Bull as one of “The Best New Chefs 2003.” In 2006 he appeared on the Food Network as an Iron Chef America competitor. And in 2007, Chef Bull was nominated for the prestigious James Beard award for “Best New Chef Southwest.”

In 2007 Chef Bull was named chef partner of La Corsha Hospitality Group, an Austin-based company that restores and operates historic landmark hotels. As chef partner he oversees all culinary operations for La Corsha Hospitality Group, most recently serving as executive chef of The Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa’s signature restaurant Bolla.

In 2009 Chef Bull released his interactive cookbook, Bull’s Eye on Food, and helped start La Corsha Restaurant Partners, the creative team behind Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen and Bar Congress.

In 2010 Chef Bull opened Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen and Bar Congress in downtown Austin. In 2011 Congress was recognized as the only five-star restaurant in Austin by the Austin American-Statesman and was named as one of the “Best New Restaurants 2011” by Esquire. Esquire also named Bar Congress as “One of the Best New Bars in America,” and all three establishments were named in the “Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America” by Bon AppétitTexas Monthly named Congress “The Best New Restaurant in Texas” in 2012.

We thank Chef Bull for his commitment to sustainably raised meat and for traveling to Des Moines to cook for our farmers.

Chef Profile: Anne Quantrano

Chef Anne Quatrano photoChef. Innovator. Visionary. Anne Quatrano is widely held to be one of the country’s greatest chefs. Her meticulous attention to detail dovetails seamlessly with her devotion to freshness, flavor and simplicity. A longtime proponent of sustainability, Anne has – since her earliest days – prided herself in using locally grown seasonal and organic produce, much of which is from her own organic gardens grown at her home on Summerland Farm in Cartersville, Ga.  Together with her husband, award-winning chef Clifford Harrison, she operates five of Atlanta’s most celebrated restaurants – Bacchanalia, Quinones at Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, Floataway Café and Abattoir.

We are thrilled she is traveling to Des Moines to cook for the family farmers who raise hogs for Niman Ranch.

Thank you chefs Anne and Clifford for your commitment to humanely raised meat.