Carpaccio, tagliata, lasagna, brisket burgers and other dishes made with U.S. beef were prepared and served to visitors at World of Food Abu Dhabi, an event that is part of the annual Abu Dhabi Food Festival. Nearly 40,000 people attended the event, which featured food trucks, a retail food area and live cooking demonstrations by regional and international chefs.
USMEF’s promotion of U.S. beef at the festival was funded by the Beef Checkoff Program and included handing out tasting samples of striploin, tenderloin, brisket and ribeye steak.
Bassam Bousaleh, USMEF representative in the region, manned the USMEF booth with Robin Gomez, executive chef of the Raviz Center Point group of hotels. Along with distributing the tasting samples, Bousaleh and Gomez answered questions about U.S. beef and its availability in the market.
“World of Food Abu Dhabi attracted more visitors this year than ever before – it was a good mix of consumers and professionals from the foodservice sector, including a number of chefs who work in the region,” said Bousaleh.
“We received a lot of positive feedback from those who tasted U.S. beef. They admired the marbling and tenderness and many asked questions about finding U.S. beef in local supermarkets or from distributors. This activity was also effective in delivering key messages to improve consumer confidence in U.S. beef.”
A key part of USMEF’s effort was the Culinary Club Live Cooking Theater, where U.S. beef dishes prepared by celebrity chefs drew much attention. A video focusing on U.S. beef cuts and attributes was displayed on large screens while well-known chefs introduced recipes that paired U.S. beef cuts with local ingredients. Michelin Star chefs Dennis Puchert, Julia Komp and Claude Taffarello took part in the cooking event. The dishes prepared by these chefs were sampled by festival visitors.
USMEF enjoyed plenty of social media exposure during the festival, especially on Instagram and on the personal pages of participating chefs. Food bloggers were also actively promoting U.S. beef. Manal Alalem, a well-respected local chef, TV personality and food blogger with more than 2 million Instagram followers, posted a photo of herself in front of a U.S. beef banner. World of Food Abu Dhabi then reposted the photo on its site, tagging USMEF and titling it “U.S. Beef Love.”
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the largest Middle Eastern destination for U.S. beef muscle cuts. Through November, last year’s exports to the UAE totaled 5,120 metric tons valued at $54.4 million.