As part of its “Go to Market” strategy, the beef checkoff-funded veal program held a cooking competition last week in Chicago for top U.S. chefs, challenging them to develop original veal dishes using several new veal cuts. The competition was held at the Kendall College veal arena and marks the third year for the competition, officially titled, “The Battle for Chicago,” – the 2008 Veal Celebrity Chef Showdown.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to test these cuts and get feedback from food professionals who make menuing decisions,” says Ray Krones, vice chair of the Joint Veal Committee and a veal packer and producer from Gilman, Ill. “These new veal cuts have excellent flavor, tenderness and versatility to meet multiple price points, create signature dishes and add unprecedented variety and value for the foodservice operator. Exciting like this only help us extend checkoff-funded promotions.”  

The new cuts are the result of a veal muscle profiling study. During this Veal Optimization Study, researchers looked at nine muscles from USDA Choice or higher carcasses. The study team included meat scientists from the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska, and was funded by the Beef Checkoff Program.  

The victorious veal chefs and their winning categories were:

  • Creativity – Chef Bob Schafer – Creative Culinary Consultants for their Cowboy Osso Buco
  • Flavor   - Chef Scott Schmitz – The Palm for their Philippino-Style Osso Buco
  • Presentation – Chef Stefano Cordova – Bertucci’s for their Parmesan Crusted Veal Chop
  • Use of Sponsor Products – Chef Bob Schafer for their Cowboy Osso Buco
  • Veal Product Application – Chef Russell Skall- Fleming’s for their Double-Bone Veal Chop with Spanish Pesto
  • People’s Choice – Chef Robin Stotter – PF Chang’s for their Exotic Osso Buco
    Overall Formal Judging Winner – Chef Bob Shafer

Each team had a “Mystery Basket”  with sponsored food products and had to choose at least one product from each sponsor offering to incorporate into their recipe. Mystery Basket sponsors included:  Idaho Potato Commission (returning sponsor); Mushroom Council; National Peanut Board; ConAgra Foodservice; Kikkoman; Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board; Boneweks Culinarte and the Illinois Grape Growers & Vintners Association.

Each of the category winners received a certificate with their name and category name on it. The People’s Choice winner and team and the Overall Formal winner and team received engraved silver plates. The formal judging panel consisted of Chris Koetke – Kendall College; Peter Schonman – Corporate Executive Chef of Biaggi’s and 2007 Veal Media Event Overall Winner and Brent Frei – Frei & Associates, past editor of Chef Magazine, ACF, and schooled chef.

For more information about checkoff-funded veal efforts, visit www.vealstore.com or www.beefboard.org.