U.S. pork was center of the plate at six recent hotel and restaurant industry product development workshops conducted in Cancun and Riviera Maya, Mexico. These events were held as part of an effort to capitalize on USMEF’s established relationships in the Yucatan region’s rapidly growing foodservice sector. Funding was provided by the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).
The product development workshops were held in coordination with Stepsa Test Kitchens, which supplies restaurant equipment to businesses in the area. Sixty-five chefs and other foodservice industry professionals from area hotels and restaurants were in attendance, along with leading distributors of U.S. pork such as Comercial Norteamericana, XO de Chihuahua and Vigar Carnes.
An educational seminar provided attendees with information about the key attributes of U.S. pork cuts, including how these items can be used to create unique dishes that will add quality and variety to their restaurant menus.
A cutting demonstration included a detailed description of each cut, including the muscle composition and location within the carcass. The demonstration also covered menu innovations and cooking techniques. Attendees were presented with samples of U.S. bone-in pork loin, brisket, leg, belly, shank, Austin ribs, bacon, sausages and pork shoulder.
During a hands-on cooking session, chefs had a chance to create and develop dishes using some of the cuts featured in the cutting demonstration. Then each chef presented his or her newly created dish to the group and discussed the cooking methods and ingredients used. The chefs tasted and evaluated the dishes for tenderness, juiciness and flavor profile.
Attendees were also provided with printed educational materials so they are able to discuss U.S. pork products with their purveyors and employees.
“This is the first time this type of workshop featuring U.S. pork has been held in this region, which is of course an important tourist destination,” said German Navarette, USMEF-Mexico corporate chef. “These seminars allow chefs to gain experience working with these products and help them appreciate the quality and versatility of U.S. pork. While pork is popular in this area, it is not commonly found in high-end restaurants. These events give chefs an opportunity to change that, by utilizing U.S. pork for fine dining.”
For the third consecutive year, U.S. pork/pork variety meat exports to Mexico set new records in 2014, reaching 680,843 metric tons valued at $1.56 billion. This makes Mexico the No. 1 volume destination for U.S. pork exports and second to Japan in export value.
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