Nestled on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the historic Egyptian city of Alexandria is home to 4.5 million people and more than four dozen popular waterfront hotels and beach clubs, making it a prime target for U.S. beef exporters looking to capitalize on the potential of this popular tourist destination.
A delegation of 16 chefs representing some of Alexandria’s leading five-star hotels and resorts as well as cooking academies, food distributors and food service operators recently gathered in one of the city’s leading hotels, the Helnan Palestine, for a USMEF beef workshop hosted with funding support from the Beef Checkoff Program.
The president of the Egyptian Chefs Association (ECA), executive chef Markus J. Iten, led the program, teaching the participating chefs about the marbling and quality of U.S. beef, as well as providing firsthand experience with new cutting techniques and cooking methods for specific cuts.
Chef Iten’s presentation provided technical information on U.S. beef production practices, inspection, safety standards, quality, marbling criteria and grading. The chefs participated in a live cutting and cookery class. The program also helped participants better understand how to maximize their profitability by using U.S. beef cuts including ribeye, striploin, tenderloin and shank in menu planning and preparations.
“One of the goals behind this workshop is gaining a larger share of the food service sector in Alexandria by capitalizing on demand for middle meats and alternative cuts of U.S. beef that we see developing at high-end hotels, fine-dining restaurants and family-style dining and franchised eateries,” said Amr Abd El Gliel, USMEF representative in Egypt.
“By watching chef Markus demonstrate easy-to-cook beef recipes and following the recipe guidelines for each type of beef cut, these chefs will be able to create a high quality dish for an appealing and affordable menu,” said Abd El Gliel.
The chefs who participated in the program indicated that the most beneficial outcome from this workshop was learning to make the best use of the U.S. beef cuts and minimize waste, particularly in light of the current higher prices for food.
Almost all the chefs in the program said they intend to introduce U.S. beef to their hotels and were interested to know that there are importers in Cairo who could deliver U.S. beef to them. They also indicated a desire to learn about more U.S. beef alternative cuts from the round and chuck.
Through the first five months of 2014, the Middle East is the No. 3 volume market for U.S. beef exports, purchasing 62,984 metric tons (139 million pounds) valued at $113 million.