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Expanding Foodservice Industry Expertise on Veal
Veal was highlighted at the March 2012 North American Meat Processors (NAMP) Association’s Center of the Plate Training, a two-day foodservice industry education event held at Kendall College in downtown Chicago. As an extension of the NAMP’s hallmark education events, these trainings draw audiences from across North American and have educated more than 500 meat and food industry professionals. Attendees included foodservice partners such as Tyson Fresh Meats, Sysco, T.G.I. Friday’s and American Harvest Eatery. Veal was a featured speaker on two sessions dedicated to veal – one specific to Modern Veal Production which outlined how and why the veal industry was developed and how today’s veal producers ensure the health and welfare of veal calves, and another session devoted to veal cutting and cookery, led by renowned Chef Rick Gresh of David Burke’s Primehouse at the James Hotel in Chicago and NAMP’s Standards and Specifications Advisor and chief instructor Steve Olson.
Veal Added to Many Menus
In the current economy, industry insiders might not expect to see restaurants adding veal to their menus, a dish that is often perceived as a luxury or a special-occasion item. But many restaurant owners and chefs have learned that veal can deliver more profit, along with great taste and versatility.
“It’s all about cost per serving,” says Dean Conklin, Executive Director, Veal Marketing at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “An operator will typically serve a 10 to 16-ounce portion of protein, depending on the cut. Veal is a very dense, low-fat product so the operator only needs to serve 4 to 6 ounces of veal to satisfy the consumer’s appetite.
A number of chains have added veal dishes to their menu over the past several months. Traditional dishes have been featured at chains such as the 45-unit Maggiano’s Little Italy, which offered a braised veal and pasta dish, and the 22-unit Il Fornaio, which featured osso buco as a limited time offer.
“A limited time offer is a great way to get consumers to try a new dish, without worrying about the impact on price and profit over the long term,” says Conklin. He also explained that restaurants need to stay on top of the latest trends and try out new versions of old, but popular favorites.
“Creative chefs have found that they can enhance the dining experience at casual format restaurants by using ground veal for burgers, sliders, meatballs or lasagna,” added Dave Zino, Executive Chef of NCBA . “Another trend we’re seeing is the use of veal chops, in addition to scallopini, in Italian restaurants. A new veal chop can be found on the menu at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, which has 200 locations.
Kendall College Hosts 7th Student Chef Veal Farm Tour
Talented student chefs attending Kendall College recently experienced veal production first hand when they completed a tour of the Strauss Brands veal plant in Franklin, WI on May 2, 2012. During the tour they witnessed the entire process from offloading calves at the veal plant, to full manufacturing, to portion control cuts.
Student chefs also toured the group housing calf raising operations in northern Wisconsin and a dairy operation in SE Wisconsin, Majestic Meadows Dairy, that milks more than 1,800 head per day. This allowed the students to see the origin of the baby dairy calves that enter the formula fed veal program. These tours are now part of the Kendall College curriculum and all graduating students are required to take the tour.
“This is the seventh tour we’ve conducted with Kendall College students,” said Tom Houlton, of the Thomas Marketing Group, an industry expert who led the students through all the steps of the operation. “We think it’s beneficial for chefs to see the agricultural side of the culinary arts,” Houlton added. The tours are held twice a year, in the spring and the fall.
The Kendall College School of Culinary Arts, located in Chicago, provides top level professional training in superior facilities. The college’s philosophy is to offer an immersive, hands-on approach which includes career specific internships that make graduates very desirable to potential employers.
“The Student Chef Veal Farm Tour provides our students with exactly the type of real-world experience that they will need to be successful chefs and restaurant operators,” said Chris Koetke, Dean of the School of Culinary Arts. These tours are sponsored by the Beef Checkoff and the Wisconsin Beef Council and supported by the Veal Issues Management and Veal Quality Assurance veal committees, a part of the Veal Go-To-Market strategy.