Sharing Among Chefs: A Fellowship of Flavour

Chefs Pete Geoghegan, Nick Unangst and Eric Leterc

Even though most chefs find themselves competing against other chefs for the eyes and taste buds of customers, they tend to share a unique fellowship based on a common love of food and its ability to excite, please and satisfy. This bond of culinary inspiration is why many chefs are quick to share their time and perspectives, whether it’s participating in industry events, working with suppliers, exchanging insights through foodservice media or just having a friendly conversation about the newest food trends.

It’s also why we established our Sterling Silver Signature Chef program 16 years ago. This select group of customer chefs bring their vast industry knowledge, expertise, perspectives and creativity to the table to help guide fellow chefs and provide input on our products and services. “These chefs and brand ambassadors supply Sterling Silver with menu ideas, trend insights, tactics for running a smooth operation and more – all to help us deliver the very best experiences for other chefs and their guests,” says Jack Liang our Associate Marketing Manager.

It’s part of our dedication to sharing our knowledge and surrounding chefs with ongoing support and education like menu and trend inspiration, podcast episodes directed to foodservice professionals and blog posts focused on industry issues. With the help of our Signature Chefs, we’re able to access a greater font of culinary knowledge in order to share more meaningful insights and information with customers.

With that in mind, we recently approached three chefs in our Sterling Silver community, asking if they’d share their takes on modern menu trends, ways beef can help restaurants stay relevant and surprise discoveries made with premium beef. Enjoy!

CHEF ERIC LETERC is Executive Chef at Honolulu’s The Pacific Club, and he’s been one of our Sterling Silver Signature Chefs for 14 years. At his club, members like to have a range of menu choices, from casual to more refined. To accommodate the demand for variety, he’s found success offering weekly and daily specials, including tacos that utilize different Latin American, Asian and other global flavors. Certain beef dishes on his menu have maintained their timeless appeal, like prime rib, filet and bone-in ribeye. But Leterc has also impressed guests using beef cuts like flap meat for salads and tacos and the chuck flat for a Provencal short rib dish. And recently, he presented a new taste experience when he featured a beef tartare along with sushi in a sake tasting event. “It was interesting how the combination went very well together,” Leterc says. “The seasoning of the beef complemented the flavour of the sake.”

CHEF NICK UNANGST has been a Signature Chefs for eight years. He’s currently Executive Culinary Director and Partner of SERG Restaurant Group where he operates 17 South Carolina eateries and oversees the menus and kitchens at 10 of those establishments. When you run that many operations, you’re constantly keeping tabs on dining habits. His biggest observation is that customers have taken a greater interest in lesser-known cuisines and ingredients. So, his menu now reflects a yearning for the new and unknown, and his dishes feature bolder, more adventurous flavours. “These bigger flavours are brought on by the introduction of different citrus notes, such as lemongrass, Meyer lemons and preserved lemons. These are paired with layers of chiles, using combinations of hot and mild to create layers of heat, while taking advantage of the fruity and floral notes they offer. It helps excite the senses,” says Unangst.

When it comes to applying those flavours to beef, Unangst has focused on adding elements like slow-cooked mole and salsa macha and rounding out the meal with simple, fresh, whole ingredients like fruits, salads and mild cheeses. His latest creation is a Filete de Terron, a seared adobo-seasoned butcher filet with yellow rice, stracchiatella cheese, local farm vegetable salad, fresh lime, olive oil and slow-cooked red mole. It takes everything that’s beloved about beef and goes somewhere completely new. “We are working on creating a modern steak that transcends.”

CHEF PETE GEOGHEGAN is the Culinary Director for Cargill Protein. He works directly with foodservice customers to develop new menu signatures, devise applications around trends and find versatile uses for different cuts. He’s also the voice of our podcast, “In The Kitchen With Sterling Silver” where he hosts chefs and foodservice professionals in dialogue surrounding industry happenings. In other words, he’s got his finger on the pulse of the culinary world. “Health and wellness are top of mind for many diners today,” Geoghegan says. “Making sure you are putting flavourful, craveable – but nutritional – food on the menu is very important. Beef is packed full of nutrients, and there are many ways to serve it.”

To expound upon that, he encourages chefs to find new ways use familiar cuts, such as splitting a striploin into Manhattan filets or breaking down a ribeye into a top cap (spinalis) steak and heart-of-the-rib filets. “These examples can be beneficial from a health perspective, and if priced right, new items/cuts can bring more dollars to the bottom line,” he says. In addition, Geoghegan implores chefs to find unconventional ways to cook beef cuts. “Sirloin flap is used a lot to make steaks or as fajita meat. But what I love to do is braise this cut or smoke it. When you braise it, you get very pronounced shreds from the long, thick muscles fibers that, when cooked just right, are flavourful and juicy. Similarly, a lot of smoked beef is taken to a 200°F temperature for a fall-apart smoky flavour experience. But when you take the sirloin flap, add a flavourful rub and smoke at very low temperatures for a couple hours, you get a medium-rare doneness that delivers a whole other experience.”

As one last nugget of wisdom, Geoghegan tells chefs to embrace the occasional misstep. He relays the story of cooking tri tips, a favourite he normally cooks to 130°F in a 250°F smoker.  “One day when I was smoking these, I got stuck in a meeting, and the beef’s internal temperature rose to 150°F. I was mad! But I needed them for an event. Lo and behold, they tasted phenomenal! They even held on to a nice, medium rare-looking colour. From that day on, I always cook tri tips to this temperature – and it’s advice I pass on whenever smoking beef.”

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