Chef Cal Peternell, the former executive chef of Chez Panisse, played a significant role in the creation of the first Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner.
Alice Waters, the owner and founder of Chez Panisse, and Chef Cal have been proud partners of Niman Ranch founding hog farmer, Paul Willis, for many years. Sourcing Chez Panisse with sustainably raised Niman Ranch pork, Alice Waters started a legendary movement in Berkeley, Calif. The successful partnership inspired Paul to organize the first Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner featuring Chef Cal Peternell.
We are happy to announce the first-ever featured chef, Chef Cal Peternell, will be back for the 20th annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner.
Q&A with Chef Cal Peternell
Q: What is your most memorable experience with a Niman Ranch product?
Chef Cal Peternell: One time for my birthday, my friend, Tamar, cooked bacon for me. Just that. A very big Niman Ranch pork belly, a fatty feast for a bunch of friends. If you’ve ever had pork belly slow-roasted just right so that the lean meaty part is tender, and the rest is browned and mmmm-melty, you know how it can be. How you might overindulge. Luckily, it was my birthday … Tamar remembers salad and artichokes. I remember only that pork belly – it changed everything.
Q: What inspired you to care about sustainably and humanely raised beef, pork and lamb and, in turn, support family farmers?
Chef Cal Peternell: I grew up on a small farm in New Jersey. It was not a big operation, just a kitchen garden, laying hens, and sometimes lambs, pigs and turkeys for meat. Without explicitly intending to, we raised our animals humanely and sustainably – a method formulated not from a set of rules and regulations but from respect for animals and the earth they live on. It was, I think, the foundation of my career and culinary choices, and the shared values that drew me as a young cook to Niman Ranch farmers and the meats they produce.
In addition to a successful career as a renowned chef Cal Peternell is also a best-selling cookbook author, artist and podcast host of Cooking by Ear. You can find Cal’s illustrations throughout his cookbooks and share his humor listening to his cooking show podcast.