Beef CheckoffThe beef checkoff recently hosted a steak immersion and educational event at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., to help educate decision makers from more than 30 major U.S. foodservice (restaurant) operators, major retail chains and the top US packers. Because rising food prices and reduced beef supply are causing foodservice operators to rethink their menus, the event aimed to inform operators on the versatility and selling power of beef.

The group -- consisting of chefs from multi-unit chain restaurants such as Applebee's, Chili's, Qdoba and Sizzler, and retailers including Whole Foods, SaveMart, Harris Teeter and HEB -- had the opportunity to learn more about:

New and exciting beef menu ideas

    chefs cooking a meat dish
  • Profit Power – how beef can be a profit driver for their operation
  • Focus on secondary cuts and other cost savings measures
  • Affordability and versatility of beef
  • Beef cutting demos
  • Straight talk on pricing/trends/future
  • Sustainability and carbon footprint

"Producers need to understand that 50 percent 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," says 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 (Coulotte steak), chuck eye steak (Delmonico 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, slider menu item.

"No two recipes turned out the same," says McGregor. "There wasn't a beef cut that didn't shine and the chefs' creativity was just amazing. That in itself 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.

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