USMEF-Mexico Targets Budding Chefs
“This is a new initiative designed to reach a lot of aspiring chefs during their formal training to build a greater appreciation and loyalty for U.S. red meat,” said Chad Russell, USMEF regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. “These are the future decision makers for hotels and restaurants throughout Mexico.”
Russell noted that the educational element of the program will be integrated with a student chef contest that will pit top students from the participating schools against each other in a cooking competition. The winners will be given additional training from USMEF professionals and receive a set of professional cutting knives. Funding for the program is provided through the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Pork Checkoff Program. In addition, USMEF is partnering with Nestle, the world’s largest food and nutrition company.
USMEF HRI (hotel, restaurant, institutional) Manager Julieta Hernandez will kick off the program in April by training professors at Escuela Nacional de Gastronomia, four gastronomy schools in Mexico City and the suburbs. In June, USMEF will expand the program to include the Universidad del Caribe in Cancun.
The schools will be provided with course materials for a class titled Culinary Theory, as well as classroom visual displays.
“There are an estimated 250 gastronomy schools in Mexico City that produce about 2,500 chefs per year, so this is a key market for us to develop,” said Russell. “We also are focusing on Cancun because it is one of Mexico’s main tourist destinations.”
Mexico is currently the largest volume market for U.S. beef, pork and lamb. In January, Mexico purchased 60,737 metric tons (133.9 million pounds) of U.S. pork valued at $110.3 million; 19,850 metric tons (43.8 million pounds) of beef valued at $87.1 million; and 1,021 metric tons (2.3 million pounds) of lamb valued at $1.1 million.