Discussing Trends and Eating Meat at the Mansion

Just back from the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek for a Fine Food Trends for 2009 luncheon, thrown by the Winn Meats folks. So Jamie Samford from Winn was there, along with Joe Harris from the Southwest Meat Association, chef Paul Rothe from Ben E. Keith, and chef Alan Turner from Snake River Farms in Idaho. So, obvs, we talked about meat a lot. These four guys spoke to a group of about 15 of us (Cathy Barber from the DMN, Jim White from Savor Dallas, Greg Fields from WFAA, among others) about food trends for this year and the state of the economy.

And we ate. A lot. This is a platter of Kurobuta pork short rib. Yep, it was amazing. Also on the menu: an amuse of sous-vide pork jowls, Kurobuta skirt steak, Wagyu sirloin, Wagyu short ribs, and Wagyu flat iron steak. Can someone please lift my head off the keyboard? Thank you.

Jump for what they talked about, and another pic of what we ate. Also, info about who is cooking at the Mansion now.

John Tesar was supposed to be a part of this panel, so the next obvious question is, “who’s cooking down there?” Executive sous chef Eric Brandt is now the man in charge. He’s been at the Mansion for a while, and worked with both JT and Dean, so he’s good to go. Even more proof of this? The food he made for this lunch was outstanding. He brought out all the entrees to us (served family style), and told us about them. He’s well-spoken and smart. Maybe he should take over…

This was a lunch that lasted a couple of hours. I’ll sum it up. Times are tight. Foods will have to wow. People want more bang for the buck, but they’re also concerned with health and nutrition. They want a story about where the meat comes from.

Mega trends (according to Samford): Responsibly produced ingredients, healthy foods, simple foods

Emerging trends: Playful, experimental foods, farm association, philosophy-driven food, new approaches to value

Hot cuisines: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern (specific regions), Latin specific, sophisticated BBQ, African, Scandinavian, burgers

Ingredients: Big beans like lima, charcuterie (specifically salumi), Asian noodles, artisinal everything

Techniques/Other: Sous vide, sweet/savory convergence, smoking

Joe sez: Look for growth in “natural” as a label for beef. Definition: minimally processed, no artificial ingredients, no preservatives.

Paul sez: Look for growth in organic produce, different types of produce (baby and heirloom, for example), and more vegetables on the plate as chef/restaurants try to keep plates full but costs down.

Alan told us about Snake River, and how their Kobe Frankfurter was the #8 hottest food at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, according to the SF Chronicle. He also told us about American Wagyu beef and Kurobuta pork. For those who don’t know, Wagyu cattle have a different molecular chain that cows around here usually do. They have 2 unsaturated fats to every fat, so the fat melts at a higher temperature. They don’t do any of that massaging or feeding cows sake or anything like that, but they’re super concerned with the animal and it’s treatment. They eat corn, potatoes, and alfalfa, among other things. Wagyu is a cross between American Angus cattle and Japanese Wagyu cattle. Kurobuta pork is also called Berkshire pork. American Kurobuta is raised on small farms throughout the midwest. Because of genetics, the pork is redder, even when cooked, and way juicier. It can be cooked for a long time and still be super-tender. That’s when Jamie jumped in to tell us another trend: Cooking pork mid-rare, especially the Kurobuta kind.

Okay, last thoughts. Jamie recommended the McCormick Flavor Forecast as another way to look at trends. Read about it here. One he uses from a couple years back: salted pistachio and crystalized ginger.

Joe says we should look out for a new kind of cattle called “low-lying.” They are apparently Angus cattle that were discovered on some island. There haven’t been any other cows around them, so they have the same genetic makeup as Angus from the 1950s. I googled and didn’t find anything, so now we all have a little beefy insider info.

That’s all. I’m off to work out for about six hours. Or not. Bye.