Stanford University’s Residential and Dining
Enterprises recently hosted an all-day educational event in conjunction with
True Aussie Beef & Lamb. Chefs from campus dining programs both in the area
and from as far away as Southern California and Colorado, along with leading
corporate dining facilities like Apple and Google, attended. The theme was
grassfed meats from Australia, and offered an opportunity to see Stanford
R&DE’s award-winning dining program in action, and to learn about the
sustainable production practices of Aussie beef and lamb ranchers. We caught up
with Executive Director Eric Montell to get his take:
Q: What was your goal in opening up the campus to your peers and
area chefs for the Aussie grassfed beef event?
As the dining program for one of the leading
research and academic institutions in the world, we are committed to excellence
and sharing our discoveries and experiences with others in the relentless
pursuit of delicious and sustainable food.
We are focused on advancing healthier, more
sustainable life-long choices for our current students and enjoy partnering
with other universities. We also work closely with many corporate dining
programs, as this is where our students will soon be dining. Stanford’s culture
is one of collaboration, innovation and excellence.
Q: Stanford is known for being a pioneer in healthy and
sustainable dining, with a strong local foods program. How did you arrive at
grassfed beef from Australia as the right source for you?
We evaluated a
number of sustainable practices, culinary standards, food safety procedures and
humane practices before making the decision to switch to beef from Australia. We
highly value Australian beef because the cattle are grassfed, humanely raised
on pasture, added hormone and antibiotic free, and Halal certified. Additionally,
the beef is container shipped to the U.S., which is one of the most sustainable
and efficient methods of transporting food. These factors are very important to us and to
Q: From a culinary perspective, what have your chefs learned about
cooking grassfed beef, especially in the kind of volumes and wide variety of
formats that you serve every day?
Our chefs have enjoyed testing and cooking
with Australian grassfed beef and are very happy with its flavor and culinary profile.
We have tested and compared other grassfed meats and Australian beef has
had some of the best attributes we have encountered. One characteristic we have
learned is that less water seems to be released with Australian beef, allowing
it to brown more quickly with minimal shrinkage.
Q: How have your customers responded to the new grassfed beef
Our students are conscious about the food
they put into their bodies and how it affects their performance so they are constantly
looking for healthier, nutritious and more sustainable food options, such as
grassfed beef. Since we have made the switch to Australian beef, our students have
been very pleased with not only the quality of the beef we have been serving,
but also the creative ways our chefs have incorporated it into the menus.