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.
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 Livability.com? 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.
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.
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!
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?
“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.”
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.
Cleveland and Columbus are the two most populated cities in Ohio. Combined with the fact that there’s just a two hour drive between them, we consider them cousins. It’s likely that most people across the country don’t think of food when they think of Cleveland or Columbus, but we visited recently to find a great food scene thriving within their walls.
Cleveland has plenty of Polish Boys and pirogi’s, but did you know it’s home to the signature Cleveland-style barbecue? Columbus is the headquarters to fast food giants like Bob Evans, White Castle and Wendy’s, but did you know they have more independently owned restaurants than any other city in the state?
Keep reading to find a list of our favorite restaurants in Cleveland and Columbus. We highly recommend trying at least one next time you’re around!
“Uncompromising quality and a genuine connection to the farms — that’s why I choose Niman Ranch Pork.”
Chef Gio Osso is one of Scottsdale’s top chefs, having overseen several nationally recognized restaurants in the Valley. Originally from New Jersey, Gio spent a considerable amount of time in Italy before calling Arizona his home.
His three year-old restaurant Virtù Honest Craft features contemporary cuisine inspired by Gio’s Mediterranean roots and global influences. It was recognized as one of the top 20 “Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire Magazine and became a semifinalist for James Beard’s Best New Restaurant award. The menu changes weekly, featuring house-made pastas, superb seafood, new Mediterranean creations and rustic favorites.
Gio just opened his second restaurant in downtown Gilbert this past spring. Nico Heirloom Kitchen, named after his son, is more casual than Virtù. The open kitchen and patio herb garden create a comfortable yet upscale atmosphere. The cuisine ranges from light fare to a 50-ounce prime tomahawk rib eye, all focusing on Italian family recipes made with local ingredients.
Kevin and Darren Malhame are co-owners of Northstar Café, Third and Hollywood, and Brassica in the greater Columbus area of Ohio, alongside Kevin’s wife Katy. We took some time to chat with them about how they got started in the restaurant business and what drives them to source fresh, sustainable ingredients.
“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!”
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.