Rising food costs and reduced beef supply are causing foodservice operators to rethink menus, and the Beef Checkoff program hopes to educate those operators on the versatility of beef using their new steak immersion event.
Held at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., the program educated decision makers from more than 30 major U.S. foodservice operations and major retail chains, including Chili's, Qdoba and Whole Foods.
The program focuses on beef menu ideas, profitability, using secondary cuts for cost efficiency, affordability of beef, beef cutting demos and sustainability.
"Producers need to understand that 50% of the beef we produce runs through the foodservice channel and we need to make sure they know the different products available and production methods that we use," said Scott McGregor, chair of the checkoff's foodservice committee and producer from Nashua, Iowa. "This event not only helped foodservice operators understand new beef cuts and create new recipes, but they got a better understanding of the overall beef marketplace and economics and why beef prices are where they are."
Operators dove right in to explore a variety of ingredients, unique flavor dynamics and beef pairings – all information they could take back to their foodservice operations to enhance their culinary expertise and menu offerings.
They worked with the top sirloin filet, top sirloin cap steak, chuck eye steak, boneless country-style ribs and Denver steak. In the test kitchen, each chef was given a base recipe from which they made their own lunch entrée item, and on day two, a slider menu item.
"No two recipes turned out the same," McGregor said. "There wasn't a beef cut that didn't shine and the chefs' creativity was just amazing. That showed us that the product was very versatile. Our challenge now is to get packers and meat processors to make it available to these restaurants."
In addition to funding from the national Beef Checkoff Program, checkoff dollars from Texas, California, Kansas, Florida, Iowa and South Dakota made this session possible.
For more information the program, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com