Earlier this year, USMEF hosted seminars and cooking events at 14 of the Universidad de Valle de Mexico’s (UVM) 40 campuses. These events were made possible through support from the Beef Checkoff Program and culminated in a cook-off competition featuring one winning team from each of the 14 participating campuses.
UVM is an extremely important training ground for professionals who go on to build careers in Mexico’s hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) sector. Across all campuses, more than 6,000 students are enrolled in the UVM gastronomy program, which offers a bachelor of arts degree in gastronomy in coordination with Kendall College in Chicago and Switzerland’s Glion Institute. More than 600 of these students participated in the seminars, where they received in-depth information on the positive attributes of U.S. beef and gained hands-on preparation and menu planning experience. Students were then divided into teams to compete in the first phase of the cooking competition, creating a range of dishes featuring U.S. beef.
The top 28 teams from the first round of competition recently traveled to Guadalajara to cook for a panel of expert judges made up of area chefs and USMEF staff. Teams were instructed to prepare a complete meal including a main course featuring U.S. beef and a dessert.
“This competition was a fun and creative way to engage young gastronomy students from across Mexico,” said USMEF-Mexico Corporate Chef German Navarette. “It was really exciting to provide high-quality U.S. beef to these young chefs to feature in their culinary masterpieces. We hope they leave here with an appreciation of U.S. beef that will stay with them during the course of their careers.”
At the final competition, Gabriela Pena and Eduardo Villagran from the UVM Guadalajara South campus emerged as the winning team, coached by Hector Davalos, executive chef and instructor for the Guadalajara South gastronomy program. The team’s winning menu included a U.S. beef ribeye with fruit and tequila sauce. They will represent Mexico in an international culinary competition this year, for which the date and location is still to be determined.
“We really want to connect to these young culinary professionals early in their careers,” said Julieta Hernandez, USMEF-Mexico HRI manager. “It’s important they understand the quality, flexibility and affordability U.S. beef contributes to their restaurant menus, because this knowledge will serve them well for years to come.”