Chefs Choose Beef
When looking at a restaurant menu, you’ll most likely see various meal options ranging from beef, pork, chicken, vegetarian and so on. If you’re like most cattlemen and women, you’d like to see more beef dishes available at different restaurants everywhere. And who are the people making the executive decisions about what’s on those restaurant menus? Chefs.
Chefs, restaurateurs and other culinary professionals have the power to develop new beef recipes, include more beef items on their menus and deliver the high-quality beef their customers love. Chefs’ efforts in the kitchen contribute to beef demand, and that’s why they’re such a crucial target audience for the Beef Checkoff.
To get more beef on more menus, the Beef Checkoff has invested producer dollars into chef outreach tactics. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, chef outreach has pivoted to include technology-driven efforts and events. This is ideal in some circumstances because it allows the Beef Checkoff to reach larger audiences.
Virtual media tours have effectively reached both consumer and culinary audiences. These tours featured celebrity chefs in the Checkoff-funded Culinary Center located at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) offices, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.
The Culinary Center is an ideal location where chefs can develop and perfect their beef recipes. The virtual media tours hosted there offer reporters, newscasters and other media members from across the U.S. the ability to do one-on-one virtual interviews and news segments with celebrity chefs to learn more about them and why they love and choose beef.
In addition to the Culinary Center, NCBA has a Checkoff-funded restaurant engagement team dedicated to working with and appealing to professionals in the restaurant sector. This group of professionals executes the Beef News Now newsletter, which delivers the latest foodservice and retail news, trends and hot topics in the beef industry to food professionals. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, this team has encouraged and helped chefs adapt their menus to fit curbside and takeout trends.
Another Beef Checkoff effort to engage chefs was a video series that brought beef producers and chefs together to learn about beef’s lifecycle from pasture to plate. This unique video series was in partnership with Chef’s Roll, a global culinary community. It featured chefs on the ranch as they got a first-hand look at the care and best management practices producers put into producing high-quality beef. This series then shows the producers’ experiences as they tour the chefs’ restaurants to see how some of their most popular and complex beef dishes are made. The videos were shared with the Chef’s Roll culinary community through multiple social and digital channels, with their Instagram posts reaching nearly 800,000 culinary professionals. Through this video effort, thousands of chefs across the country are now enlightened on environmental stewardship, cattle handling techniques, quality control and animal welfare priorities.
Not only does the Beef Checkoff strive to reach chefs on a national level, but it also implements state-specific efforts through Qualified State Beef Councils (QSBCs).
Every QSBC implements its state-specific efforts and utilizes chefs through multiple initiatives. This can include recipe videos on YouTube and social media, live cooking classes, education-focused webinars on beef nutrition, cutting and serving techniques and promotional partnerships, to name a few.
One exciting state effort launched by the Texas Beef Council (TBC) is a new “Beef Loving Chefs” podcast. This gives chefs and others in the foodservice and hospitality industries the opportunity to share and listen to personal journeys, relationships and experiences with TBC and the Texas beef industry. One particular episode goes in-depth on one chef’s journey to modify his menu to capitalize on takeout demand and keep his restaurant afloat while in-person dining was prohibited.
On an international scale, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, also implements chef engagement tactics. USMEF executed numerous virtual cooking classes, training sessions, grilling workshops and demonstrations across the world this past year. At a particular training session, USMEF China showed chefs cutting and cooking best practices for Asian-style barbecue. U.S. beef cuts highlighted during this session were U.S. beef heart, hanging tender and top blade. More than 50 chefs and restaurant managers participated.
Whether it be a state, national or worldwide endeavor, the Beef Checkoff is dedicated to expanding chefs’ love of beef and getting more beef dishes on their menus.
The Beef Checkoff program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.