MenuPages Interviews: Unterman On Niman
After news broke on Sunday that Bill Niman has split from his Niman Ranch company and publicly declared he will no longer use their products, we wondered what the impact would be to local restaurants. So we called a few.
Not many were eager to talk with us, but we did get ahold of Patricia Unterman, the Examiner columnist, Hayes Street Grill chef/owner, and a day-one Niman customer and supporter. She's known Bill Niman since he first got into the business, and she's following the recent flap. Here's what she had to say about the future of Hayes Street Grill and the Niman Ranch brand:
MPSF: What's your relationship with Niman Ranch now? Do you use Niman products?
PU: We continue to use Niman pork. I visited the Niman pork operation. Paul Willis, a farmer in Iowa, runs the pork operation. I flew out there, stayed at his farm, visited other farms in the pig cooperative. What Niman was doing was, they had a protocol for raising pigs. They got small farmers to follow this protocol for feeding, for housing, breeding.
MPSF: What about beef?
PU: I still use one flatiron steak from Niman that continues to be really tasty. At this point, I just have not gotten to the bottom of the [new] protocol. The company distributing it says they have not diluted the protocol. The same rules are in effect, according to Bill.... There was one change: they’re using an antibacterial agent—others might call it an antibiotic—but they’re using an antibacterial product... I know what he (Niman) was doing. I don’t know if it’s continuing.
MPSF: So how do you see your future relationship with the Niman company?
PU: I’m going to continue to use the pork because I know the people are still in charge, and I have no problem with it. I’d like the beef thing to be a little more transparent. I’d like to find out a little more about what’s going on… You just hate to drop a product you’ve used for a long time and that claims to be as good... I tried some other beef and I didn’t like it as well as Niman, so it’s an issue.
Previously: Where Will We Be Without Bill Niman? [MenuPages: San Francisco]
[Photo: Neeta Lind/flickr]