Niman Ranch Pairs Sustainable Meats with a Side of Culinary Competition

Published: April 24, 2012

Local chefs and College of Western Idaho culinary students team up for a lunchtime cook-off

MEDIA ADVISORY - In celebration of its commitment to education and great-tasting, humanely raised meats, Niman Ranch is challenging teams of local chefs and College of Western Idaho (CWI) culinary students to prepare a meal using sustainable proteins as part of its 2012 partners meeting on April 28. Chef Mark Owsley, executive chef of St. Luke’s Hospital Magic Valley, Chef Richard Langston, executive chef and owner of Café Vincino, and Chef Drew Leget, executive chef for The Reef, Brickyard and Front Door pizza will lead three teams of students in a friendly competition.

Niman Ranch is hosting its annual partners meeting, April 27-28, in Boise, Idaho. The sustainable ranching and farming brand is bringing over 100 partners together for educational presentations and a review of what is planned for 2012. Experiential education includes tours of the Jaca family cattle ranch to observe a working operation that supplies Niman Ranch beef; St. Luke’s Hospital to learn about hospitals incorporating sustainably sourced proteins; and Boise Co-op to see a grocer’s presentation of the product. Finally, partners will attend informative seminars by Dr. Kraig Peel from the Colorado State University Department of Animal sciences on sustainable versus local and Dr. Judith Capper, Washington State University, on grass fed versus grain fed to complete the schedule. Niman Ranch partners include distributors, restaurant chains, chefs and grocers who purchase its products.

To celebrate the local culinary talent’s knowledge of sustainable proteins, Niman Ranch is partnering with CWI to host a culinary competition. Each team will be centered on one of Niman Ranch’s three sustainably raised meat programs: beef, pork and lamb. The chefs will meet their student teams for the first time during a Thursday afternoon planning session. Each team will create their vision for the meal and plan for the cook-off. To heat things up, the teams may only ask for up to three additional special ingredients to be purchased, all other ingredients are to be sourced from the kitchen pantry, located at the CWI Culinary Arts kitchen at Boise State University.

On Saturday morning  Team Beef, Team Pork and Team Lamb will fight the clock to create the best small plate item featuring its Niman Ranch protein to be served promptly at noon. The plates will be served family-style at the Partners’ lunch and judged on flavor, texture, appearance and creativity.

The chef-led teams are as follows:

  • Team Beef: Chef Mark Owsley- Executive Chef of St. Luke’s Hospital Magic Valley; Brent Brooks- beginning student, Alex Leamen- intermediate student, Jesse Johnson- intermediate student, Jamie Johs- Advanced student & Frank Salazar- Advanced student.
  • Team Lamb: Chef Richard Langston- Executive Chef/Owner of Café Vincino; Jenn Willis- beginning student, Linnea Thoresen- intermediate student, Randy Chandler- intermediate student, Sarah Mallard- Advanced student & Marshall Henrie- Advanced student.
  • Team Pork: Chef Drew Leger- Executive Chef for The Reef/ Brickyard/ Front Door Pizza; Adam Weintraub- beginning student, Amy O’Hara- beginning student, Brian Denise- intermediate student, Regina Horst- Advanced student & Chris Collins- Advanced Student.

This is a private event for Niman Ranch partners and is not open to the public. Media is welcome to attend with opportunities for photos, video, and interviews starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the CWI Culinary Arts Center located on BSU Campus, 1310 University Drive, Boise, Idaho. Please contact Jennifer Couch, CWI Communications Director, at 208-866-6569 for more details.

Media Contacts:

Jennifer Couch, College of Western Idaho

208-562-3508, cell: 208-866-6569

Drew Calvert, Fresh Ideas Group

303-449-2108, ext. 17


Niman Ranch is a network of more than 675 sustainable U.S. family farmers and ranchers who raise livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to deliver the finest-tasting proteins in the world. Niman Ranch’s independent family farmers practice the highest standards of animal husbandry and environmental stewardship. Niman Ranch’s fresh, smoked and prepared meats are available at fine restaurants and select grocery stores nationwide.

The College of Western Idaho is a public, open-access, and comprehensive community college committed to providing affordable access to quality teaching and learning opportunities to the residents of its service area in western Idaho. CWI has seven campus locations throughout Southwest Idaho providing higher education and 21st Century technical skills acquisition. The college is dedicated to improving the community’s economic well-being by responding with highly-educated and productive graduates. The foundation for the area’s only community college was created by a supermajority of voters in Ada and Canyon counties on May 22, 2007. For more information about the college, visit or call (208) 562-3000.


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