James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurant owner, Chef Michael Schwartz, will be returning to Des Moines, Iowa for the 20th anniversary of the Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner. He joined us to cook great food for our family farmers back in 2011 and was so popular that he was invited back for this year’s special anniversary.
Chef Michael Schwartz continues to support Niman Ranch’s network of independent family farmers through his devotion to good food by exclusively featuring Niman Ranch pork and beef at his restaurants, Genuine Pizza® and Harry’s Pizzeria®.
Q&A with Chef Michael Schwartz
Q: Do you have a food moment with a Niman Ranch product?
Chef Michael Schwartz: Yes, when I was able to cook at the Farmer Appreciation Dinner for the first time! When I went and visited one of the farms, after knowing of the brand for so long. Going there and seeing where it all started was the “aha” moment for me! As chefs and restaurant owners, we work really hard to operate our restaurants, create experiences for guests and take care of our people. It’s all-consuming. When we have an opportunity to get out and make a personal connection, it really is everything. I have especially enjoyed working with the lamb and other products for so long.
Q: What inspired you to care about sustainably and humanely raised beef, pork and lamb and, in turn, support family farmers?
Chef Michael Schwartz: So much. When you raise a family and have a larger family of employees and guests you are serving, there is a big sense of responsibility. We take that level of trust very seriously and are always trying to do better. We won’t always be perfect. But, if there is a way to improve and use the platform we have for good, we want to do that whenever possible. We are very aware of the impact we can have, however big or small.
Q: Why do you choose Niman Ranch?
Chef Michael Schwartz: For us, it’s always been about the secret of good food being good food. Everything we do in the restaurants starts at the source with good product. Niman Ranch shares this commitment and is also inspired by it, just like we are. It’s about building community. It’s a genuine experience for our guests, and this is a perfect way for us to check all those boxes. It doesn’t just feel good to support independent American family farmers, but it tastes good too.
Q: Do your customers care about where you source your ingredients? Why do you think this is the case?
Chef Michael Schwartz: Very much so. It’s always been a part of our DNA. As a company and a big part of what Genuine means to us – knowing your source. Our guests come back for this. They may not all think about the thought and effort that has gone into getting the ingredient on the plate. However, they can taste the result and have come to expect this level of quality.