Chefs learn from the master

Head chefs from one of the country's largest foodservice organisations, Sodexo, came together recently to learn more about alternative beef and lamb cuts in an interactive training day.

Organised by Sodexo's craft and food development manager, David Mulcahy, the aim of the day was to encourage departmental head chefs from across the business to consider the merits of using alternative cuts of beef and lamb.

Setting the scene for the day, Mulcahy stressed that despite the current economic climate, the aim of the training day was not to focus on cheap cuts, but rather to consider alternatives which will add real value to the business.

He said: "What we want to do is to find ways in which to improve our offering without driving prices up. But to do that we need to change some of the skill sets and ideas around menu presentation. That's what we want you all to think about today."

Following an interactive morning of presentations and an opportunity to sample the cuts prepared by Dick van Leeuwen and cooked up by Pierre Koffmann, the chefs were divided into teams and set the task of creating two dishes themselves using some of the cuts presented earlier, including thick flank, sliced shin, brisket joints, flat iron steaks and hanger steaks.

Paul Burton, food services executive chef, for Sodexo's defence business side, said: "The cuts we have tried today have been excellent. I was particularly impressed with the skirt and cheek cuts as they were so full of flavour and had a wonderful texture. I'm really keen to see if we can introduce them onto our menu. I think they'd go down particularly well within our sergeants and officers mess and banqueting."

Peter Bartholdy, head chef at Doncaster Deaf Trust, said: "To see Dick cutting and seam butchering was wonderful and confirmed that to get a great tasting cut of meat it has to be butchered correctly.

"It's so easy nowadays to place an order with a butcher but not actually know if the meat you have received has been cut to achieve optimum eating quality. To be able to refer to the Meat Purchasing Guide and even send a cutting specification to our supplier will overcome all of those problems, and it's something I'll be sharing with all my staff."