Featured Chef Profile: Paul Mattison

“It is such a privilege to have access to fresh pork raised by an independent family farmer.  Niman’s  commitment to humane farming practices and their consortium business model should be the standard in our world’s food supply. I have never tasted anything better!”

Paul Mattison Photo

Chef Paul Mattison grew up in New York cooking and gardening side by side with his Italian grandmother, Esther. He began his culinary career at age 15 in a local Greek restaurant and was encouraged by the restaurant’s owner to attend the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). Upon graduating with honors from the CIA, he went to Aspen where he refined his skills over the next five years working at Piñons, a one-of-a-kind restaurant receiving top kudos from Zagat.

In 1991, Paul relocated to Sarasota, Florida, as the executive chef and proprietor of the Summerhouse Restaurant on Siesta Key. The Summerhouse quickly became a local treasure and institution, establishing Paul as a celebrated local chef. Each Mattison’s restaurant location is unique to its neighborhood, offering his signature menu items, outstanding service, and quality ingredients, while supporting the community, regional farmers, and culinary suppliers. Mattison’s Catering is a chef-owned and operated company procuring fresh, natural, and local ingredients.

Also known for his community-based efforts, Chef Paul Mattison received several national service awards. He gives culinary classes and demonstrations for charity organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., Sarasota County, and Selby Gardens. Paul serves on the Advisory Board for Keiser College and Sarasota County Technical Institute’s Culinary Arts Program, and Sarasota’s Downtown Farmers’ Market. He also serves on the Board of Director for All Faiths Food Bank and Florida Winefest & Auction.

Featured Chef Profile: Enosh Kelley

“To me, Niman Ranch is the pinnacle and gold standard of producing the highest quality animal products in the industry. Their unwavering commitment to outstanding sustainability and complete transparency of their products is unmatched. It makes me proud to serve my guests Niman Ranch products at my restaurant, as I know I am providing the best of the best in the industry.”

Anthony Bourdain/Bistro Montage 11/09

Enosh Kelley, owner/chef of Bistro Montage, isn’t describing the first time he saw the love of his life. At least, not the way you think:

“I remember what she looked like. What she wore. The expression on her face.”

He’s describing the first moment he realized he wanted to be a chef. At the time, he was working in a restaurant while going to business school at the University of Iowa. “One day I bought the ingredients for a dish I’d seen on Great Chefs—Great Cities. I took it all to work and served it as the special,” Kelley explains.

Seeing a customer enjoy that dish set the course for the rest of Kelley’s life. “Watching her eyebrows pop when she took the first bite of that dish, seeing the smile on her face, that was my ‘ah-ha’ moment,” he says.

Shortly after that experience, Kelley dropped out of business school and enrolled in New York’s prestigious Culinary Institute of America. While there, he fell in love with classic French food.

By the fall of 2001, Kelley had graduated from the Culinary Institute and moved back to Iowa. In 2003, when the former owner of Bistro Montage decided to sell, Kelley realized that buying the restaurant was the right move at the right time. Since becoming the owner and chef of Bistro Montage, Kelley has taken the restaurant to new heights—earning rave reviews from The Wall Street Journal and The Des Moines Register, as well as a Best Chef of the Midwest nomination by the James Beard Institute. Today, he continues to push the envelope with new takes on French classics—always with the goal of delighting his current customers as much as his first.

  • James Beard nominated Best Chef Midwest
  • 5 Best Chefs In Des Moines: Enosh Kelly / Bistro Montage – MetroMix Magazine
  • Voted Best Local Bistro Fare – City View Magazine
  • Awarded “Most Romantic Restaurant” – dsm Magazine

Summer on the Prairie

We’re kicking off summer with our annual Picnic on the Prairie, where we host Niman Ranch hog farmers, our country neighbors and local community.  It’s a potluck, so we ask guests to bring something homemade with seasonal, local, and sustainable ingredients.  We plan our picnic around the Summer Solstice to celebrate the vibrant abundance brought on by the summer months.

Joyce Lock, creator of Foodie Fight, at the Farmer Picnic on the Prairie.
Joyce Lock, creator of Foodie Fight, at the Farmer Picnic on the Prairie.

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Featured Chef Profile: Joseph “JJ” Johnson

“Niman Ranch has some of the best farmers in the country and continues to be a household name for chefs. As a consumer, you should be able to trust your farmers and the products that they produce. I know I do. I trust Niman Ranch farmers.  These farmers are hardworking families that dedicate their lives to ensuring high quality meats. I believe in the the quality of Niman Ranch pork and also appreciate that their meat is raised humanely and sustainably. I respect the measures taken to ensure that their hogs are raised with care which in turn guarantees better tasting meat.”

JJ Johnson Headshot

Chef Joseph “JJ” Johnson is a James Beard-nominated Executive Chef at The Cecil and Minton’s, both based in Harlem, NY. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he went on to hone his skills in some of New York’s most esteemed kitchens including Centro Vinoteca, Jane, and Tribeca Grill. In 2013, Chef JJ helped open The Cecil, NYC’s first Afro-Asian-American restaurant, with restaurateur Alexander Smalls, which was named Best New Restaurant of the Year in 2014 by Esquire Magazine. Soon after, he joined the kitchen of its sister restaurant Minton’s, the revived jazz supper club next door.

Chef JJ’s accolades include a nomination for a James Beard Foundation award for Rising Star Chef (2015), an award from Star Chefs as a Rising Star Community Chef (2015), being named as one of Observer’s “20 Under 40” list of extraordinary philanthropists (2016), Forbes’ 30 Under 30, Zagat’s 30 Under 30, and Eater Young Guns (all in 2014), and being recognized as Chef of the Year by New York African Restaurant Week (2015).

Our Top 10 Recipes for the Perfect Grill Out

Independence Day is the perfect time to get together with friends and family to celebrate freedom, liberty and justice for all. It’s also a great time to cook your favorite summer foods!

Before you set your party menu, pick one of our 10 favorite recipes to help you pull off the perfect 4th of July celebration. We have everything from salads to hot dogs and ribs. You’ll even find a home-made barbecue sauce and rub recipe to impress your friends with whatever cut of meat you choose.

These recipes are also great all summer long!

read more Our Top 10 Recipes for the Perfect Grill Out

What I Learned from My Father

Paul Willis on the family farm.
Paul Willis, Sarah’s father, on the family farm.

When Father’s Day has arrived, I find myself reminiscing about my dad and my childhood growing up on our farm in rural Thornton, Iowa.  My mom was in charge of our household and proudly introduced herself as a “farm wife”.  She cooked three meals a day and washed our dishes by hand.  My father was in charge of the farm work. He was a bit untraditional in that fact that he liked to cook as well.

read more What I Learned from My Father

A Meat Lover’s Guide to Eating in Seattle


Almost every restaurant you enter in Seattle has an open kitchen. Diners across the city patiently watch as chefs prepare their meal each night over good conversation and creative cocktails. Grill tops are nestled behind massive center islands akin to those found in a home, flanked by rustic pillars or fresh microgreens, and sometimes there’s even a “chefs counter” for the most intimate of dining views. It’s the ultimate in dinner theater.

The list of restaurants to choose from is growing year by year. With the boom in tech hiring at Amazon, Tableau, F5 Networks and Google, cranes cover the landscape and many houses are being remodeled into multi-unit apartments. Seattle has more customers than ever – and with more than enough money to support any industry. This translates to a growth in superior quality restaurants that satisfy the many tastes of natives and transplants alike.

We took a trip to Seattle to create a list of our top picks so you can enjoy the finest restaurants this sleepless city has to offer. Every restaurant we chose is owned by locals with a penchant for sourcing high quality and sustainable ingredients. From dry-aged steaks to smoked ham and porchetta, here is our meat lover’s guide to eating in Seattle.

read more A Meat Lover’s Guide to Eating in Seattle

National Young Farmers Coalition: Building a Future for Young Farmers Across America

According to the latest USDA Census of Agriculture, farmers over the age of 65 outnumber farmers under the age of 35 by a ratio of 6-to-1. While the average age of a Niman Ranch farmer is 48 years old, the average age in America sits at 58 years. What opportunities exist to grow the number of young farmers nationally?

Because of a host of barriers not faced by previous generations, many young farmers are unable to start their own farm or take over the family business. We’ve seen issues range from skyrocketing land prices and student loan debt to difficulty taking out reasonable loans or finding reliable work. Inheriting land isn’t enough to allow for a farm to thrive financially these days, and with more than one child in many farm families, most of those who vie to take over have to find their own land regardless.

read more National Young Farmers Coalition: Building a Future for Young Farmers Across America