Visit with a Chef: Dominic Orsini

We took the time to sit with Chef Dominic Orsini, Executive Chef of Silver Oaks Winery in Napa Valley and recent author of The Silver Oak Cookbook: Life in a Cabernet Kitchen. Find out how he found his passion for cooking with only the freshest ingredients, and how he’s worked to build a sense of place through his cuisine.


Chef Dominic Orsini
Chef Dominic Orsini harvesting vegetables from the Silver Oak gardens.

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What It Means To Be An Honorary Farmer: Marczyk Fine Foods

Marczyk's Fine Foods
Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, CO; their location at 5100 E Colfax Avenue during their annual Burger Night Fundraiser.


At our annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, we present the Honorary Farmer of the Year award. This recognition is given to a Niman Ranch customer – whether it be a meat distributor, grocer or restaurant – that shows outstanding commitment to the Niman Ranch farming community. They go above and beyond being a customer to embody the true meaning of partnership in their actions towards promoting sustainable, humane agriculture.

This year, we honored a long-time friend of ours, Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, Colorado. Owners Pete, Barbara and Paul Marczyk have increased their commitment to our Next Generation Scholarship Fund through private dinners at their home, having customers “round up” at the register, selling special items at their deli, and our favorite event of the year: Marczyk’s Burger Night. The Fund is set up to give our farmers’ children a better chance of returning to the land by curbing school loan debt. This ultimately preserves traditional farming practices and promotes the advancement of the next generation of farmers.

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The 2016 Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner

The tradition of the Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner is alive and well! We recently celebrated our 18th annual event at the Embassy Suites Downtown in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, August 27.

Each year we painstakingly select a group of highly acclaimed chefs who meet our strict criteria. They are award –winning chefs in their regions and they have shown a real commitment to supporting Niman Ranch and our family of farmers and ranchers not only through purchasing Niman Ranch meats but by raising awareness about how our network of family farmers raise the livestock.  Most often the initial reason many chefs choose Niman Ranch is because of the outstanding meat quality, but once they realize the connection with flavor and how the animals are raised, they become advocates for our entire program.

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10 Quick and Delicious Recipes to Make This School Year

Whether you just sent your kids off to school or you’re in school yourself, making fresh, delicious recipes at home can be a challenge. Eating out every day gets expensive and spending two hours in the kitchen between cooking and eating can be cumbersome.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of our 10 favorite recipes that are both quick to cook and delicious. You’ll be able to enjoy what little free time you have to run errands, focus on homework or just enjoy more time with your family.

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The 2016 Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship Awards

Next Generation Scholarship Winners
The 2016 Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship winners.

For the last eight years, our grocer and meat distributor customers across the country have raised money for the Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship Fund. Awards are given at our annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner, which celebrates our family farmers with a delicious meal prepared by top chefs from across the country.

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A Meat Lover’s Guide to Eating in Scottsdale

Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

Tucked between Phoenix and the McDowell Mountains you’ll find Scottsdale, a young city with a wild west feel. It has seen a lot of change since the days of horse drawn carriages and saloon culture. You’ll now find spas, art galleries and exquisite jewelry stores back to back on the winding roads of Old Town Scottsdale. Hiking trails dot the outskirts for nature enthusiasts. “The West’s Most Western Town” has a little bit of everything for everyone – especially when it comes to Scottsdale’s restaurants.

While the official food is chili in this region, for all intensive purposes, we stayed away from it. Did you know Scottsdale was donned the No. 2 Foodie City of 2014 by That means there’s a plethora of creative and culinarily conscious restaurants that go beyond the traditional southwestern fare.

Take a trip to the wild west with us and check out the best food this city has to offer. From wood oven roasted bone marrow to pork cheeks and hot dogs, this is our meat lover’s guide to eating in Scottsdale.


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8 Chefs 1 Cause: The Next Generation Scholarship Fundraiser at Nico Heirloom Kitchen

Fundraising Dinner Menu

It all started eight years ago at the 9th annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner. The first Next Generation Scholarship was given to a few children of our farmers with the intent of helping them pay for college so they could return to the farm. In its first year, the scholarship totaled $6,000.

Today, the Next Generation Scholarship has grown to support 23 students with over $85,000 in funds for college – an amount that wouldn’t be possible without the support of chefs who work hard to raise money across the country. This includes chefs like Gio Osso of Nico Heirloom Kitchen and Virtu Honest Craft in the greater Phoenix area.

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A Meat Lover’s Guide to Eating in Phoenix

Phoenix Shot

If you’ve ever visited Phoenix, it was likely in the winter or spring. From June to September, the average temperature is over 100ºF. Days are often so hot it doesn’t even matter how dry it is.  October through May, however, this city is home to the perfect climate. But regardless of what the temperature may be, Phoenix restaurants serve a plethora of fantastic food year round.

It’s so good, in fact, that we ventured out into the 115º heat to eat like a local. While Mexican cuisine is typical in the Southwest, you’ll find farm-to-table restaurants, southern-style eateries and hip burger joints from Echo Canyon to Glendale.

We set out this month to make the good food search a little easier for visitors, whether you’re staying for a weekend or a week. If you live in Phoenix and haven’t been to these restaurants yet, we highly suggest you put them on your list!

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5 Things to Do with Food Before the End of Summer

We love summer for so many reasons. It’s the time when prairie flowers reach full bloom, the crops are high, evening storms water the yard and hogs lay all day in the shade to beat the sun’s heat. Families and friends gather on the weekend to play lawn games or talk about their warm weather plans. Grills sizzle with burgers and brats as ice slowly melts in the beverage cooler. Even the hottest days are welcomed with cold treats and long dips in the pool or local lake.

But like harvest season, all good things come to an end. Kids head back to school this month, which marks the beginning of our sun setting earlier and earlier. Soon the wind will turn chilly as birds migrate south making way for fallen leaves and eventual snowflakes.

Before you say good-bye to summer, be sure to gather your favorite people and try one of these five activities centered on food! Sure, you could do some of these in fall – but why wait?

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Featured Chef Profile: Carlos Villanueva

“Chef, cook, creator, master of craft, innovator… This means nothing with great quality products. There is nothing like peeling back the brown butcher’s paper to reveal snow white fat glistening in the marbled pink flesh of naturally-raised Niman Ranch pork.”

Carlos Villanueva Photo

Chef Carlos Patricio Villanueva is a Cuban-American born in Tampa, Florida, in 1985. Growing up in his Cuban grandmother’s house, he began to learn the importance of product freshness. Carlos helped his grandmother tend the family garden every year up until he left for college. The most important lesson he learned from his grandmother was that “to grow the best product, you must take care of your soil, and then let nature take its course.” This is one of the values Carlos finds most important as a chef today.

After graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Carlos continued his tenure at the CIA as a Teaching Assistant in their Meat and Fish Fabrication classes. It was there he would meet his later mentor, Chef Olivier Andreini CMC, who inspired his ambition to one day take the Certified Master Chef Exam.

Through his travels, Carlos has worked at two Michelin Star Sergi Arola Gastro in Madrid and three Michelin Star Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain. Upon returning to America, Carlos worked with James Beard Award winner Chef Tony Maws as Sous-Chef at Craigie on Main. Currently, Carlos is the Chef de Cuisine at Cloud Catering and Events in Long Island City, New York, where he and his team are changing peoples’ expectations of catering.