Advisory Board Chef Spotlight: From Slopes to Stoves

When Farmland Advisory Board Chef Nathan Nichols hit the snowy Vail slopes after high school graduation, he intended to make a little cash and have a little fun, not expecting to find a path that would soon lead him to an exciting culinary career.

It all started when the weather warmed, and Nichols took a summer job as a fry cook at Outback Steakhouse in Denver. He spent the early part of his career learning the ins and outs of the industry in positions that included assistant manager and sous chef before ending up as Chef de Cuisine at Kansas City’s first gastro pub, Gram & Dun.

The menu at Gram & Dun is highly influenced by southern cuisine – something Nichols can relate to as he describes mealtime during his childhood.

“Food has always been a big part of family gatherings for us, and my grandmother was always cooking. I grew up eating traditional, home cooked heart-warming meals around the dinner table every day – we were a meat-and-potatoes, crock-pot-stew kind of family.”

According to Nichols, the southern food movement is really catching steam as Americans are realizing that southern food really is traditional American food. Pork has a high influence on southern cuisine and Gram & Dun’s menu exudes simple comfort food style. On-trend offerings like miso braised pork belly and sweet tea braised pork shoulder are classic southern favorites at the gastro pub.

“Pork is comfort food in and of itself, and economically it’s a great option for chefs to provide their guests a low price point without sacrificing quality.”

When asked about his biggest influence while cooking up all that southern comfort food, Nichols, not surprisingly, gives credit to his grandmother who was the lunch lady at his school when he was a kid.

Farmland’s Advisory Board demonstrates culinary excellence and a passion for pork, making Nichols a perfect fit for the group.

“Farmland produces quality products and constantly demonstrates innovation with new products and applications,” Nichols said. “Being part of the Advisory Board is a great opportunity to be part of the innovation and contribute to a company that has established leadership in our industry.”

Nichols will join the rest of the Advisory Board throughout the year for innovation labs and ideation sessions. He explains that the Advisory Board is a great way to get him out of the restaurant and interacting with other chefs. “We can bounce ideas off each other and learn new techniques to take back to each of our restaurants. It’s also a great way to make connections in the industry.”

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