He caters to special tastesBusiness Profile: Meat supplier gets wild boar, venison to region's restaurants
The Sacramento Bee
February 3, 2008
Menus at El Dorado Hills' elegant Masque Ristorante and Sacramento's chic Mason's dining spot tempt their patrons with specialty meats from Kalibala Kironde's refrigerated warehouse in the shadow of Oakland's Oracle Arena. There, Kironde gathers the Hereford beef or Colorado lamb chops before they reach Masque's tables and the wild boar before it's shipped to Mason's kitchen. "Bala has a big connection to where products come from," said Philip Wang, executive chef at Mason's. "He's focused on quality. He knows what's going into an animal. The products are the best I've ever seen - their quality is unmatched."
The 52-year-old Kironde travels the world to bring home the boar, the lamb, the venison and more … and today distributes 1.1 million pounds of meat, enough to supply the protein habit of 5,500 Americans for a year. Along the way, Kironde cultivated a market among chefs and gastronomes for superpremium meats. He also built close ties with farmers and ranchers who produce gourmet meats free of hormones and antibiotics away from factory feedlots.
He brought aboard a restaurant-polished staff that can talk about product quality in the chef's own language, then back it up with their own culinary creations based on Preferred's specialty items. One of the chefs is John Paul Khoury, now Preferred Meats' corporate chef.
Born in Uganda, Kironde is the son of one of that nation's most storied statesmen and diplomats, Apollo Kadumukasa Kironde, who died at age 92 last year. The elder Kironde bought a ranch outside the capital of Kampala, where he raised cattle and poultry. The son worked alongside the father at the ranch, learning the trade.
"He's been around this his entire career," said Jane St. Claire of SavorCalifornia.com, a Healdsburg-based Web site dedicated to specialty and gourmet food. "He's a connoisseur, an enthusiast."
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