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'Diamond' Awards Recognize Taiwanese Restaurants Serving Quality U.S. Beef

Published: Thursday, April 26th, 2018

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Recognizing restaurants in Taiwan that serve U.S. beef while encouraging others to do the same, USMEF established an awards program that complements the world-renowned Michelin Guide. The first USMEF Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection awards ceremony, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, honored 27 restaurants that demonstrated “the spirit of dependable and faithful partners who support U.S. beef products and promise to provide high-quality U.S. beef cuisine to Taiwanese consumers,” said Davis Wu, USMEF director in Taiwan.

Food bloggers, media members and food industry professionals in Taiwan check out U.S. beef dishes at the first USMEF Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection awards ceremony

Food bloggers, media members and food industry professionals in Taiwan check out U.S. beef dishes at the first USMEF Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection awards ceremony

“This year, the Michelin Guide officially arrived on Taiwan’s dining scene to announce their ‘star’ restaurants in Taipei, and while the media and consumers were paying close attention to that, we took advantage by launching Diamond Plus Precious,” explained Wu. “The results were exactly what we were hoping for – restaurant and foodservice operators learned of our new awards program and began contacting us for details on how to participate.”

Evaluation of candidates for the Diamond Plus Precious award was performed by experts selected by USMEF. The judges dined at restaurants, considering presentation, aroma and taste of U.S. beef dishes – which accounted for 60 percent of the restaurant’s final score. Culinary creativity in using U.S. beef accounted for the remaining 40 percent. Five styles of restaurants were evaluated in separate categories: burgers, beef bowls, barbecue, hot pot and steak.

Restaurants recognized with Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection awards received medals that included the program’s logo – twin cattle heads and five clovers

Restaurants recognized with Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection awards received medals that included the program’s logo – twin cattle heads and five clovers

For a restaurant to qualify as a Diamond Plus Precious selection, it must meet three requirements:

  • U.S. beef dishes must account for more than half of the total beef items on its menu.
  • All U.S. beef offerings must be of USDA Choice grade or higher.
  • The grade and cut must be clearly marked on the menu.

Davis Wu (third from left), USMEF director in Taiwan, with representatives of some of the restaurants recognized with Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection awards

Davis Wu (third from left), USMEF director in Taiwan, with representatives of some of the restaurants recognized with Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection awards

In the inaugural Diamond Plus ceremony, Chen Jia-Jun, deputy chef of Just Grill at Regent Taipei, prepared dishes from all five restaurant categories, using a variety of U.S. beef cuts to demonstrate their versatility.

The Diamond Plus Precious program is the latest in a series of promotions USMEF has conducted in Taiwan to put U.S. beef in the forefront of the country’s growing food culture. In 2015, USMEF presented “Beef Bowl Month” and followed that in 2016 with the “Barbecue Month” promotion. “Hot Pot Season” was a major push in 2017 and this year the “Steaklicious U.S. Beef Steak Month” is being rolled out.

“We’ve cooperated with about 100 restaurants for each event and now there are more than 700 outlets using U.S. beef,” said Wu.

Media response to the new award was significant, including 33 online news reports, five food blogger reviews and five newspaper articles. One example of the coverage can be found here.

Looking to the future, Wu said 20 restaurants will be chosen each year for the Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection award. A Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Guide is also in the works, so that consumers can easily find their favorite U.S. beef restaurants in Taiwan.

U.S. beef dishes on display at the Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection award ceremony in the five restaurant style categories eligible for the honor: burgers, beef bowls, barbecue, hot pot and steak

U.S. beef dishes on display at the Diamond Plus Precious Gourmet Selection award ceremony in the five restaurant style categories eligible for the honor: burgers, beef bowls, barbecue, hot pot and steak

“The recognition will encourage Taiwanese restaurants to use high-quality U.S. beef and describe the cuts more clearly on their menus,” said Wu. “It will also provide consumers with a clear and accessible way to learn about U.S. beef restaurants and choose their favorites. When a consumer sees the Diamond Plus Precious logo, they know they will enjoy the delicious taste of Diamond Plus Precious U.S. beef.”

Following a record year in which U.S. beef exports to Taiwan topped $400 million for the first time, the market is showing no signs of a slowdown in 2018. Through February, exports were 25 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (8,106 metric tons) and 42 percent in value ($78.2 million). Chilled exports soared 53 percent in volume (3,800 metric tons) and 61 percent in value ($48 million) with the U.S. capturing 72 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market – the highest market share of any Asian destination.