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Aussie Meat Trends

How We “Fling” Spring

(Trends and Recipes) Permanent link

Aussie lamb has been busy these last few months adding some fling to spring in Miami. In addition to conducting a media blitz, there was a citywide menu contest (see “featured chef” for more on the winner, The Dutch’s Conor Hanlon) and a media and blogger dinner at db Bistro. But that’s not all! We also hosted an invitational seminar for chefs in the Miami area to spend a day with an intimate group of their peers learning about Aussie lamb and getting to work with it in the kitchens at the iconic Eden Roc hotel.

Miami Chef Event  Miami Chef Event 2

Chef Event 5

We caught up with one of the participants, Marriott Waterfront Biscayne Bay Executive Chef Joe Natoli, for his take on the event.

AL: What did you take away from the seminar?
JN: It’s always great to get out of your own kitchen and just learn and cook. I don’t often get to practice butchery and breaking down a whole carcass, and it’s always inspiring. I came back to my restaurant, Catch Bar & Grill, and showed my team how easy it is to break down different muscles of the lamb and use cuts like the saddle and shank. There’s so much more than just chops!

AL: You just won the Facebook “Fan Favorite” competition and $500 cash for your Roasted Aussie Lamb Shank dish. What was the inspiration?
JN: For the cookoff during the seminar, my team had the shank in our basket. I love those full-flavored cuts; they’re so versatile. We ran it at the restaurant for about a month, and we’re going to bring it back during “Miami Spice,” our local restaurant week.

AL: What was the key to getting your guests excited about Australian lamb?
JN: At Catch, we focus on storytelling with our front of house staff. Coming out of the seminar, we were able to get them fired up about Australian lamb, the way it was pastured on grass, how it was raised humanely and with care, and of course how we prepared it. When they went out on the floor, they talked up our featured item with real passion; it absolutely helped sales. We find guests love to feel connected to where their food is coming from.

Food For Thought

(Round Out Your Menu) Permanent link
Chipotle Founder, Chairman and Co-CEO Steve Ells’ thoughtful and thought-provoking op-ed in the Huffington Post, “Conventional vs. Grassfed Beef” earlier this summer raised a lot of eyebrows in the beef and foodservice industries, in large part because of the source. Ells’ Chipotle is a brand known for its “food with integrity” mission and emphasis on sustainable food sourcing. As such, many were surprised to see a public declaration that the iconic burrito brand was sourcing most of its grass-fed “Responsibly Raised” beef all the way from Australia.

Ells’ point is that quality and the way beef is raised – on grass, humanely, without added hormones or antibiotics – is more relevant and important than geographic origin. With so much emphasis placed on local when it comes to sustainability, it marked a new way to consider a responsible choice. We hope to add to the conversation in the coming months, with the pending release of a study of the total environmental impact of meats from Australia.

Aussie Meats: a favorite flavor at Flavor Experience

(Meat Masterclass) Permanent link

Fresh off the plane from the always fabulous Flavor Experience in Newport Beach, CA, we’re feeling like the most popular kid in school. Grass-fed beef, lamb and sustainable, humanely-raised proteins were on everyone’s lips, and not just because we were serving them ! 

Trends Guru Gerry Ludwig of Gordon Foodservice presented his annual “Flavor Finds” featuring noteworthy menu items from around the country, and had an entire section of his presentation about lamb! In particular, he noted that lamb was experiencing an uptick in menuing, and starting to show up in more casual, approachable dishes. Three of the examples were:

  • Crispy Lamb Scrumpets with Minted Pea Puree and Malt Vinegar Dipping Sauce at Ada St in Chicago, IL
  • Lamb Meatballs with Mint Chimichurri and Yogurt Sauce at the Mudhen Tavern, Los Angeles
  • Lamb Meatball with Mint, Garlic, Chili and Rich Lamb Reduction at J. Rocco Italian Table, Chicago, IL

Grass-fed beef and sustainable proteins were much discussed at Flavor & the Menu magazine’s annual trends roundtable. Not only did data from Technomic and Datassential point out that younger consumers are increasingly demanding grass-fed and sustainable meats, but several major chain restaurants told the group that grass-fed beef was all they served, and that Australia was where it came from!

"Grass-fed beef was a hot topic with restaurant operators at the Flavor Experience." said Cathy Holley, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Flavor & the Menu, who had “grass-fed” on a list of trends discussed in her open-forum roundtable session. “One major chain in particular mentioned that they exclusively serve grass-fed beef, and that it came from Australia. This opened up the discussion of the interest and availability in grass-fed in high-volume foodservice. We see this as part of a larger trend towards more sustainable proteins overall, and a reversal of old attitudes about grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef. Chain restaurant operators are clearly interested in this movement."