Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, CO has hosted Burger Night from Memorial Day to Labor Day since they opened back in 2002. This is their signature event, and it’s been said that they only shut down if the rain is hard enough to put out the coals. Both their locations offer Niman Ranch beef patties with outdoor seating – the perfect way to spend a summer evening.
Pete Marczyk, founder and owner, hosted their first Burger Night for charity three years ago. The event was so successful, he felt the need to look for more meaningful opportunities. When asked why they chose the Next Generation Scholarship Fund, Pete reflected: “As we were planning for the future and how we could work more closely with our partners, it occurred to us that the Next Generation Scholarship Fund was the charity we felt most connected to, and the one we wanted to participate in most meaningfully as a staff.”
On August 28th, Chef Tyson Grant of the Parkshore Grill and Chef Jason Cline of The Birchwood joined culinary forces to raise money for the Next Generation Scholarship Fund in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tyson, who first came up with the concept, hosts several fundraisers at the Parkshore Grill each the year. “As chefs, we really love doing these kinds of events,” says Tyson. “When we can successfully put something together and raise money at the same time, it’s fun for us.”
The Parkshore Grill was the first Niman Ranch-branded restaurant in the Tampa area, starting back in 2007. With Jason now serving our products just blocks away, Tyson felt it was only natural to work together. He even was the one to suggest we invite Jason as a featured chef to the Farmer Appreciation Dinner, where Tyson himself was featured just a few years back. Jason was ultimately chosen this year, and he did a spectacular job in Iowa highlighting Niman Ranch pork with his gorgonzola & candied bacon-stuffed meatloaf entrée.
This fund is designed to raise awareness to the loss of traditional farming and ranching practices, and to ultimately help maintain this way of life. Our goal is to help give the children and family members of Niman Ranch farmers or other family farmers a better opportunity to return to the farm by helping pay for some of their education.
All the independent family farmers who raise livestock for Niman Ranch practice sustainable farming methods, humane animal husbandry and work within their communities to promote the family farming model. There are some, however, that stand out above the rest. In order to honor their achievements, we honor one farmer every year with the Farmer of the Year award, which is presented at the Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Iowa.
The 2014 winner came as no surprise. Paul Brown of Alderland farm has opened his home on several occasions to share his knowledge of sustainable farming and Niman Ranch. He and his family have hosted many tours over the years, from Niman Ranch groups to college groups, and even local school children. In fact, Paul is known simply as “Farmer Brown” to many local kids in his community.
Our annual Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner was held on September 13, 2014 at the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines. It was a spectacular celebration. Every year it seems to take on a personality of its own. This truly was the year of the Niman Ranch Hog Farmer. Enthusiasm for the dinner led to a record breaking number of RSVPs. After all these years, it amazes me to see how much this event has developed, not just in size, but in helping people understand how important it is to recognize our farmers for their good stewardship of the land and humane treatment of their livestock.
The outpouring of support from the food community was enormous, starting the moment we asked our selected featured chefs if they would be willing to come to Iowa and cook for our farmers. They agreed without hesitation, and many of them even paid for their sous chefs to come along. Chef Jason Cline of St. Petersburg, FL, went even further and held a fund-raiser for the Next Generation Scholarship at his restaurant, The Birchwood.