Rare Medium – influencing chefs and the future of food
03 August 2018
Earlier this year MLA relaunched its foodservice-focused Rare Medium platform to address a lack of formal red meat training in culinary education and ensure red meat remains on the menu.
The Australian foodservice sector is important to the red meat industry – worth $45 billion in 2016 and accounting for 50 million meals/week.
And whilst the hospitality and tourism industry is growing annually at 14%, Australia is experiencing a major chef shortage. To get more chefs into the workforce, the time to become qualified has reduced from four to a three-years – resulting in cuts to key areas of study including red meat.
The flow-on effect into the workforce is significant with 81% of foodservice businesses identifying staff skill deficiencies.
The Rare Medium program serves to address these skills shortages by providing relevant, timely and accessible education and inspiration for chefs about Australian red meat from paddock to plate.
Friday Feedback caught up with MLA Foodservice Program Manager Mary-Jane Morse to find out how it is going.
Q: What was the response from the foodservice sector to the Rare Medium revamp?
Our objective for Rare Medium is to become the go-to source for red meat information for chefs. Identifying a key foodservice industry need and working collaboratively to provide an accessible solution has resulted in a positive response.
In the six months since launching in January, our seasonal e-magazine has received 125,000 visits from 25,000 users, whilst the video content has generated more than 700,000 views.
Our focus now is ensuring that the resources are reaching and impacting the right people – through targeted social and digital outreach, industry partnerships, influencer engagement and adoption in culinary institutes.
Q: Tell us about the latest issue of the emagazine – what does it feature?
The spring lamb issue is a visual feast from paddock to plate, co-edited with chef Paul Carmichael from Momofuku Seiōbo - a food hot spot voted number six in Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants.
Each issue of the emagazine is co-edited with a different chef to bring a different perspective but also to leverage their influence with the audience. We know that chefs learn from chefs and it’s critical that Rare Medium continues to engage chef talent to help tell the red meat story, rather than just providing the theory.
For this issue, we take Paul to visit his first Australian sheep farm to learn about lamb production from Michael and Jane Craig at their property in western Victoria. In a new section called Roadies, we take a road trip with chef Mike Eggert to explore lamb on menus from Geelong to Goulburn; and share ways top chefs around the country are using lamb.
With videos, stories, animations, images and more – the issue is designed to inspire chefs about the endless opportunities for lamb on menu.
Q: How does Rare Medium work?
In this fiercely competitive industry, Rare Medium seeks to ensure that beef and lamb remain relevant and retain their place on domestic foodservice menus. To do this, we focus primarily on two key areas of the chef psyche – education and inspiration.
Firstly, in order for red meat to retain its place on menu, chefs must be educated not just about cuts and how to cook them but also how those cuts were derived from the carcase and how the animal was raised and treated through each stage of production.
Secondly, amongst a sea of foodservice trends, for red meat to remain relevant we must elevate it in the minds of chefs. It’s critical to be inspiring the top chefs and restaurants, as this is where the broader population of foodservice takes their cues, which drives food trends overall. By inspiring the top 1% we are aiming to impact the future of food.
This year we partnered with the Australian Financial Review’s Top 100 Restaurants Awards offering a Rare Medium award recognising outstanding use of beef or lamb.
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