As part of an ongoing strategy to promote alternative cuts of U.S. beef in the Middle East, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has partnered with the Emirates Culinary Guild (ECG) and Qatar Culinary Professionals (QCP) to conduct U.S. beef workshops targeting the hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) sector in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Doha, Qatar. Funded by the beef checkoff program, the educational events attracted more than 125 chefs and beef importers who work in the hospitality industry.
“The goal of these workshops was to bring chefs and importers together to experience the unique taste and versatility of underutilized cuts of U.S. beef particularly and to ultimately help the HRI businesses develop new menu ideas,” said Eliane Elia, USMEF representative in the Middle East. “We were also able to explain the role of USMEF in the region and how we support all sectors to promote U.S. beef.”
Elia noted that workshops and seminars continue to be useful in reaching culinary professionals from different hotels across the Middle East and introducing them to major importers in the market.
At the two HRI workshops, USMEF representatives emphasized the quality of U.S. beef and its superior taste compared to competitors’ products as well as the safety aspects and halal certification, which are considered important factors affecting meat purchases in the Middle East.
QCP vice president Joseph Yammine and ECG vice president Peter De Kauwe led live cutting and cooking demonstrations at both workshops. They worked with a variety of U.S. beef cuts, including brisket, rib-eye, tri-tip and strip loin. Both shared various cooking techniques, along with proper beef storage and handling, while stressing the advantages of grain-fed beef compared to grass-fed beef.
In Abu Dhabi, participating chefs also took part in a hands-on cooking session, preparing a number of recipes and enjoying a lunch consisting of tasting samples of the dishes, which included: braised beef roulade, burgers with beef bacon, beef fajitas, meatballs with mushroom sauce, Middle Eastern beef kofta with potato Provençale, Thai beef salad, flat iron steak with sautéed vegetables and hanging tender with buttered vegetables.
“Because the HRI sector is geared toward consumers looking for high-quality dining and a variety of dining options, it was important that we give the chefs and importers examples of U.S. beef’s versatility,” Elia said. “The educational portion of the workshops explained the value of using alternative cuts, while the cooking demonstrations and tastings provided real examples of the menu possibilities these cuts offer.”