Niman Ranch Q&A with Pinch Chinese

January 31, 2019

Pinch Chinese - Chef Hua Zhang

Located in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, Pinch Chinese, is making headlines for their delicious dishes and are being featured on websites like The New York Times, Eater, and Chowhound. Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview, Chef Hua Zhang and learn more about his passion for cooking and why he uses Niman Ranch at Pinch Chinese.

Q&A With Chef Hua Zhang of Pinch Chinese

Q: Where did you grow up?
A village of Qing town, Anhui province, China.

Q: What inspired you to become a chef?
I love food. I wanted to become a chef after dining at a restaurant for the first time.

Q: How did you hear about Niman Ranch?
From David Hammer, a sales representative at Debragga.

Q: Why do you choose/use Niman Ranch?
When Pinch Chinese opened in February 2016 we compared products from different vendors and Niman Ranch stood out. Their meats have unique aroma and flavor.

Q: What inspired you to care about sustainably and humanely raised beef, pork and lamb and, in turn, support family farmers?
I grew up in a small village and my parents are farmers and they raise livestock. I know humanely raised meat like Niman Ranch’s tastes better because farmers use higher quality ingredients to feed the animals.

Pinch Chinese - Niman Ranch Cumin Ribs

Q: Do your customers care about where you source your ingredients? Why do you think this is the case?
Of course! The majority of my customers care about where our meat comes from.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10?
Pinch Chinese will open 10 restaurants and I will be the executive chef!

Q: What person would you most like to cook for?
Believe or not, picky customers. No complaints mean a lot!

Q: What did you have for dinner last night?
Steak and Chinese broccoli.

Q: What is your favorite ingredient to work with?
Soy sauce, salt, sugar, and butter.

Q: What Chinese recipe would you recommend for a beginner?
Charsiu ribs. They’re delicious and easy to make:

  • Marinate 2.5 lbs of Niman Ranch St. Louis cut pork ribs overnight with salt (10g), star anise powder (2g), bay leaves powder (2g), and cinnamon powder (1g).
  • Brush Charsiu sauce by Lee Kum Kee (available at Asian supermarkets) just enough to cover the ribs.
  • Steam the ribs for 2 hours.
  • Brush Charsiu sauce one more time before roasting the ribs in the oven for about 12 minutes at 450 degrees.

Pinch Chinese Dumplings

Q: Are you doing anything special at your restaurant for Chinese New Year? Yes, additions to the menu include: steamed black seabass, pan-fried rice cake with Chinese sausage, lobster long life noodle, and lion head meatballs.

Q: What is your favorite kitchen equipment or gadget?
Knife and wok.

Q: Are there any foods you don’t like?
I personally don’t enjoy lamb as much as beef and pork.

Q: What do you love most about your job as a chef?
Traveling and trying different cuisines, meeting different people, and learning about their cultures.

Q: If you weren’t a chef, what would you do for a living?
An athlete.

Q: Most embarrassing or most famous cooking moment?
I’m embarrassed anytime a customer does not like a dish and sends it back to the kitchen! In regards to my famous cooking moment, I am a huge fan of Maria Sharapova and I cooked all her dishes when she came to dine at Pinch Chinese last year. I was very happy when her server later told me that she loved the food—one of the dishes she had was Niman Ranch cumin ribs.

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