Twenty chefs from the West African nation of Senegal were treated to a banquet of U.S. beef alternative cuts recently as part of an ongoing education program to expand the appreciation for and availability of high-quality American beef in the region.
The Radisson Blu Hotel in the capital city of Dakar played host to chefs from top restaurants and hotels in the second in a series of educational seminars sponsored by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)-Dakar. While the first session last fall focused on high-end U.S. beef cuts, this follow-up program emphasized alternative cuts: the chuck roll, tri tip, hanging tender, top blade, flat iron, flank steak and top butt.
“While we asked all of the participants to grade each of the cuts, our goal was to ensure they took careful note of which cut they were tasting and encourage them to think in terms of how the cuts compare in terms of tenderness and taste,” said John Brook, USMEF regional director. “Our intent is to help the chefs better understand the value cuts that can help them expand their menus.”
The program, which was funded with support from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Beef Checkoff, also provided participants with information about how U.S. beef cattle are raised, fed, finished and processed to develop their confidence in the quality and safety of U.S. beef.
“The chefs were amazed at the eating quality of these secondary cuts,” said Brook. “Throughout the event, they commented that these cuts are in many ways as enjoyable as, and in some cases even better than, the usual loin cuts they’re using now. Many of them were interested in buying these cuts and adding them to their menus.”
While Senegalese consumers are accustomed to eating their beef well-done due to cold chain management issues, USMEF encouraged the participants to sample the same cuts both medium-rare and well-done to familiarize them with the flavor of grain-fed U.S. beef.
“We realize that reliable cold chain management is still relatively new in many areas, but with the marbling of these cuts, even well-done they keep a lot of their tenderness and juiciness,” said Brook.
USMEF is focusing increased attention on the West Africa region, which is experiencing growth in key metropolitan areas fueled by the booming oil and natural resource industries.
“It is a challenge to serve these areas because they are not likely to be purchasing full containers of chilled beef cuts,” Brook explained. “For that reason, we need to educate chefs and restaurant owners and show them that they can achieve excellent results using frozen cuts. That way, exporters can provide them with combined shipments in which frozen beef cuts are delivered with the variety meat they are already purchasing, or perhaps with other proteins. Using these methods, the region has strong potential for new business.”