With the foodservice sector significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring Australian red meat remains a prominent menu fixture is the focus of a new Meat & Livestock Australia initiative to be launched this month.
MLA's foodservice trade team, in consultation with the foodservice industry, has developed the Rare Medium Academy series to educate and inspire foodservice chefs to utilise Australian red meat in commercial kitchens through new product development, cooking techniques and exploring the best cut for cook method.
The domestic foodservice sector is a key channel for Australian red meat, typically sourcing approximately 28 per cent of Australia's domestic beef supply and 15pc of sheepmeat supply.
MLA corporate chef Samuel Burke said developing agile and innovative solutions to support the foodservice sector in the current climate was vital.
"The foodservice sector has experienced wide-scale shutdowns and operation restrictions across almost all states this year as a result of COVID-19," Mr Burke said.
"Consequently, the typical balance of demand for specific Australian red meat cuts has shifted and fluctuated through the different stages of COVID-19 shut downs, causing substantial carcase utilisation challenges.
"This has also impacted processor supply chains through expanding demand in alternate channels.
"The other major challenge for the foodservice industry is the unknown and unpredictable timeline for recovery. Any escalation of cases within a state is likely to see a re-introduction of restrictions and place many businesses back in a very challenging financial position."
COVID-19 had prompted MLA to re-think its foodservice program delivery to ensure it was relevant and beneficial in the current climate, Mr Burke said.
Rare Medium Academy will have its first live webinar on 24 November, and will have a presence on LinkedIn Showcase, the Rare Medium website, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
MLA's Foodservice team will host a series of 30-minute, live showcase masterclasses for commercial foodservice teams on themes that will help pivot their menus and guide them to success.
"MLA is also creating a library of 30 videos streamed via YouTube, featuring tips, tricks and hacks to mentor foodservice professionals to escalate their menus to the next level while maintaining costs, achieving a balanced meal and a delicious dish for their patrons," Mr Burke said.
The themes will include low and slow barbecue, summer lamb tips and tricks for foodservice, red meat menu solutions for delivery service providers, great steaks and sides, power bowls and salads, grab and go sandwiches, wraps and burgers, wok tossed dishes, curries and braises, and roasts and carveries.
MLA is also producing a series of videos taking commercial foodservice leaders and executive chefs on-farm, straight to the source where they meet Australian producers.
"The participants will learn first-hand how Australia produces the best red meat in the world, then while on location, produce a dish that's applicable to their business and will inspire others across the commercial foodservice landscape," Mr Burke said.
The Rare Medium Academy website is here.