Meet the 2023 Hog Farmer Appreciation Celebration Chefs

Niman Ranch’s 25th Hog Farmer Appreciation Celebration took place in Des Moines, Iowa August 25-27, 2023. This annual celebration brings together the Niman Ranch community—chefs, distributors, partners and friends— to recount stories, learn and share incredible meals, all featuring Niman Ranch’s award-winning pork prepared by some of the country’s most celebrated chefs.

It’s no small task to prepare a multi-course meal for 600 guests. So why do chefs join us each year in Iowa to cook at this event?

Chef Andrew Hunter, Niman Ranch’s executive chef and the lead organizer of the 600-person gala dinner, explains that chefs are always eager to participate in this event because they love the Niman Ranch product, respect how Niman Ranch operates with integrity and credibility and, most important, appreciate the farmers. The dinner gives chefs a chance to cook for and thank the farmers directly.

“The dinner provides chefs a rare honor to cook for the people who pour their whole lives into raising hogs with such care,” shared Chef Andrew. “It’s a chance for the chefs to meet their idols, to work with other like-minded culinary leaders, to have a fun and educational weekend, to show off their culinary chops and to have a platform to say thank you by word and deed.”

Chef Andrew Hunter | Executive Chef & Coordinator

Chef Andrew Hunter is considered one of the country’s leading research and development (R&D) chefs. He is executive chef for Niman Ranch, head of culinary R&D for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, global development chef for Kikkoman and the culinary innovation partner for The Mushroom Council. He is co-founder of Kogi L.A. Street Sauces and Hi Note, a plant-based, chef-driven seasoning company. Andrew’s practice focuses on menu and operations development for restaurant groups; translating commodity crops into foodservice products for farmers; and product commercialization for industrial clients. Andrew appeared as the R&D expert on Lifetime’s “Supermarket Superstar” series, was a season regular on CNBC’s “Restaurant Startup” and was featured in Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me 2″.

Chef Jamey Fader | Saturday Dinner Dish: Pueblo Green Chile Braised Pork Cheeks

Jamey Fader’s storied background includes being culinary director for the Big Red F Restaurant Group and overseeing 14 stores and six concepts. He was also the founder and chef of Lola, which won awards such as Best New Restaurant, Top Places to Drink Tequila in America and Best Ceviche Bar. In addition, he was 5280 Magazine’s Chef of the Year in 2004, co-founder of Dos Casas charity to benefit Brent’s Place and a four-time member of Denver Five representing Denver at Aspen Food and Wine and The James Beard House. Jamey found his way to Marczyk Fine Foods (MFF) after a longtime friendship with founders Pete, Paul and Barbara. When it was time for MFF to find a new culinary director, Chef Fader was the first choice. He was looking for a new opportunity and adventure outside of the restaurant industry, and the MFF team was looking to expand and grow their brand. It was a perfect fit.

Chef Jo Lerma-Lopez | Saturday Dinner Dish: Yucatan Achiote-Citrus Cochinita Pibil

Jo Lerma-Lopez has always had a passion for innovation and generating change. After many years of success in the music industry, Jo transitioned to another growing obsession—holistic healing and nutrition. She enrolled in a culinary program and studied to be a natural chef. In the summer of 2017, Jo opened LUNA Mexican Kitchen in San Jose. An acronym for local, unrefined, natural and authentic, LUNA sources all its ingredients from companies with sustainable practices. Chef Jo and LUNA have received multiple accolades and recognitions including Jo being named a Silicon Valley 100 Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2023 and Luna being recognized as a Michelin Bib Gourmand Restaurant from 2019 to 2022 and being named Best Mexican Restaurant in San Jose/South Valley by The Metro from 2019 to 2022.

Chef Adrian Lipscombe | Saturday Dinner Dish: Gorgonzola Dulce de Leche Brownie with Candied Chicharrόn

Adrian Lipscombe is a native Texan and began her career in city planning after graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has been an advocate for all farmers and ranchers, aiming to provide opportunities for local connections with chefs. Currently, Adrian is an advisory board member of Foodways Texas and a member of the Austin Travis County Food Policy Board. In 2016, Adrian moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and opened Uptowne Café. As an endeavor initially rooted in her perspective as one of the only Black restaurant owners in the area, Adrian founded the 40 Acres Project, which seeks to preserve the legacy of Black agriculture and foodways through the purchase of Black-owned land. Adrian is currently a Ph.D. candidate in urban and regional planning at the University of Texas at Austin.

Chef Pushkar Marathe | Saturday Dinner Dish: Iberian Duroc Achaari Pork Collar

Born in Nagpur, India, Chef Pushkar Marathe’s culinary roots originated in the rich flavor tapestry of his homeland, cultivated through cooking with his parents in their family kitchen. Yet, his desire to experience something more drew him out into the world and, at age 20, he began his culinary training in Switzerland before embarking on a decades-long exploration of international cuisine. In 2020, he and partner Andy Dugard opened Stage Kitchen and Bar in Palm Beach Gardens, bringing all of his culinary experiences and explorations together in a vital cuisine born of interwoven traditions. With Stage firmly established in the hearts of the Palm Beach Gardens community, Pushkar and Dugard opened Ela Curry Kitchen in 2022. In 2023, Chef Pushkar was nominated Best Chef: South semifinalist by the James Beard Foundation.

Chef Michael Showers | Saturday Dinner Dish: Iberian Duroc Porchetta with Black Garlic, Citrus & Rosemary
Michael’s cooking roots stem from the Pacific Northwest where he attended the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA. After working abroad at 3 Michelin-starred Akelarre in Spain, he returned home to Seattle and worked in the kitchens of renowned restaurants and cooked alongside James Beard Award winners Tamara Murphy and Holly Smith. Michael then headed to Montana to take the executive chef role at The Gallatin Gateway Inn, followed by The Lodge at Sun Ranch. Upon moving to Park City, Michael became the executive chef at the Goldener Hirsch Inn at Deer Valley Resort. After becoming the Corporate Chef and Seafood Specialist for Nicholas & Co., Michael opened the Dejoria Center in Kamas, UT, in 2015 as Executive Chef & Food & Beverage Director. Today, he leads all culinary development for Constellation Brands as well as being the Executive Chef of the High West culinary team.

Chef Lamar Moore | Saturday Lunch Menu: Grilled Niman Ranch Iberian Duroc Tomahawk, Korean-style Niman Ranch Pork Back Ribs and Okra Corn Stew

Chef Lamar Moore was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and began showing his love for the culinary arts at the age of 8. Growing up in a large family, he learned the importance of cooking with love, taking care of people and giving back to those less fortunate. His grandmother was extremely influential in his culinary journey. Lamar has cooked for Super Bowls, NBA Finals and even Barack and Michelle Obama on multiple occasions, but he admits his grandmother will always be his first and biggest fan. Lamar has appeared on popular culinary competition shows like Bravo TV’s Welcome To Waverly and Food Network’s Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay and Vegas Chef Prizefight, where he earned and won head chef of the all-new $10 million Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse at Flamingo Las Vegas. Now as executive chef at Bronzeville Winery, he brings American and Southern influences to Chicago.