My name is Josie Hamilton and I grew up on a ranch in Northern California. This past August, I was the recipient of a Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship, which helped support my studies in Agribusiness at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. I grew up in a small town called Rio Vista, CA and I am the fifth generation to live on my family’s farm. We raise cattle and sheep and dryland farm (non-irrigated cultivation of crops). My family partnered with Niman Ranch in 1996 and has been raising lambs for the company ever since.
Next Generation Foundation Fundraiser
As part of my role as a Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship recipient, I am able to attend fundraising events that raise money for future scholarship recipients. It is because of chefs and donors like the ones I met at in Carmel, CA at a recent fundraiser dinner at Seventh & Delores that the Next Generation Foundation Scholarship is able to thrive. Last year, Niman Ranch granted 32 scholarships to deserving students to help reduce college debt so we could stay on the farm or improve the rural communities in which we live.
I thought other farmers, ranchers and readers might be interested in what happens when chefs host events to raise money for students like me! Here is what you missed at the dinner I attended in Carmel! In a few words: great people, phenomenal food, and generosity that filled the air. Now in more detail…
More than 40 people attended this special event—all coming together to support the next generation of sustainable farmers. The dinner had a mix of people ranging from chefs, lovers of delicious foods, locals, and philanthropists. The layout was perfect for conversation and getting to know people. The set-up of the tables allowed friends to sit together, but also for multiple small groups to engage with one another, cultivating fun conversation. Strangers soon became friends.
When walking into Seventh & Dolores and seeing Chef Todd in his iconic red shoes making the appetizers, I instantly knew I would be leaving the night in a food coma. The dishes throughout the multi-course dinner definitely did not disappoint. The courses innovatively incorporated either Niman Ranch pork, beef or lamb.
- The evening started with four types of appetizers, a specially made Dry-Aged Niman Ranch Beef Fat & Marrow-Barrel Aged Bourbon Old Fashioned.
- The dinner was kicked off with the lighting of Niman Ranch Beef Tallow and Fragrant Herb Candles that melted into a dip for warm sourdough bread.
- The first course was a fava pod porridge with Niman Ranch pork chorizo and salted duck egg yolk that was meant to be swirled together.
- The second course was a merguez spiced Niman Ranch lamb chop with confit beans, whey poached radishes, peas, leeks and greens with fresh yogurt and olive oil.
- The entrée was a 28-day dry-aged Niman Ranch strip loin served with seared diver scallops, sweet potato mille-feuille, yellow foot chanterelles, and spring garlic soubise.
- The dessert was the perfect cherry on top: a slow-roasted Hawaiian pineapple, Kouign-Amann pastry, whipped dulce chocolate, and macadamia nut glass.
And there were wine pairings too, all from the much celebrated Folktale Winery! The first course was paired with a 2016 Folktale SLH Chardonnay. The second course was served with a 2016 Folktale 777 Pinot Noir. The entrée was served with a 2017 Le Mistral Joseph’s Blend. The dessert was complemented by a 2018 Folktale Late Harvest Gewürztraminer.
This special evening was about far more than delicious food. All proceeds of the dinner, and a silent auction that followed the meal, directly support the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation, a cause near and dear to my heart. The Foundation awards scholarships to Niman Ranch farmer and rancher families to help the next generation cover the costs of their education.
With student loan debt affecting two-thirds of college graduates today, paying for higher education is a significant challenge for young farmers and ranchers who face continually rising land costs. Due to these and other challenges, the number of beginning farmers in America fell by 20 percent between 2007 and 2012 alone. Thanks to attendees of this event and other generous supporters, young people like me will have a better shot of pursuing a career in farming and ranching or improving their communities.
Altogether, the Next Generation Foundation Fundraiser raised more than $3,000 for the Foundation. The evening was a success thanks to Chef Todd, Del Monte Meat Company, the Seventh & Dolores Steakhouse staff and Niman Ranch team who together hosted a wonderful evening that will directly support future farmers.