Recently, it feels like dining habits, plating trends and flavor pairings are changing just about every month. So we spoke with Sterling Silver Culinary Manager Chef Pete Geoghegan to get a better idea of what restaurants can expect for all-things beef in 2022.
In what ways has the past year influenced 2022?
A lot of people have been cooking steaks at home and I am sure plenty of them have become pretty good at it, so it is really important to offer something a bit more special than someone can make in their own backyard.
Having high quality, well-marbled and aged steak like Sterling Silver is where you need to start. At that point, whether you are broiling, grilling, or searing your steaks, you are already on a path to creating great eating experiences that will not be easy for a home cook to achieve.
Seasoning and finishing the steaks are the next steps. Make the experience memorable by making sure you are evenly distributing the seasoning so every bite is flavorful, and then finishing with either a compound butter or sauce.
This is how you create experiences that can’t be made at home. Competition for customers is pretty fierce nowadays, so going back to basics and execution is the key to success. If you attract the consumers, you will also attract the labor since they can be paid more in an establishment that is doing well.
What new beef preparation techniques or plating trends are you noticing?
I’m seeing more comfort foods—like braises or stews—that are using local beers to help the community, or adding a twist on traditional recipes with global flavors like curries, fermented pastes, chilies or citrus.
Dishes like these are great in the colder months, but also help keep costs down by using tougher cuts. They are a dish that you can prep in large batches on slower days and reheat for service when busy. They make a lot of sense, especially when there are labor shortages. Taking the time to develop great flavor and nailing the tenderness will ensure that your guests have a great experience.
Have you seen any notable menu adaptations to current challenges?
Takeout has been the biggest area that I have seen changes in. Also, restaurants making their menus smaller and at times having to make substitutions because of supply issues.
What new flavors are you seeing on menus?
I am still seeing a lot of pickled and fermented foods and more focus on the vegetables and sides. It’s very important to make sure that the sides are just as impactful as the main component on the plate.
All too often I get a perfectly cook steak with a delicious, fresh-herb sauce or tasty compound butter, but the vegetables are undercooked and underseasoned. That ruins a meal for me. If it is not going to be cared for like the steak, then don’t put it on the plate.
It’s great to see more pickled and fermented veggies on menus. People are starting to realize how important our health is, and vegetables are such an important part that they should be a delicious complement to a well-prepared beef dish.
What new consumer dining habits should chefs keep in mind for 2022?
Takeout is picking up again, so I would focus on creating the best takeout experience possible. And with staffing issues, think simple but impactful. Just like having really good consistent meals in the restaurant, it is just as important to have that in a takeout meal. If a dish just doesn’t do well for takeout, don’t offer it.
A workhorse cut of beef can be ideal for today’s challenges. One that you can use in many dishes and many preparations. The sirloin flap, tri tip and the chuck flat all are cuts that do well in multiple preparations. Braising, smoking, grilling, sous vide, stir fry, etc. They also do really well with multiple different flavor profiles. Perfect for global flavors!
Will animal welfare and sustainability still be top of mind?
Yes, they will still be very important to chefs and the consumer. We have to constantly remind everyone of the steps we take to ensure the cattle we use for Sterling Silver are handled with care and respect throughout the process. That will never change. Treating these animals with the respect they deserve is crucial to the overall quality of the food that is harvested from that animal.
Sustainable practices aren’t going away. Everyone believes that we should make the world a better place for the next generation and that is what we are striving to do with our BeefUp Sustainability Initiative.
We are engaging stakeholders across the supply chain to build programs that focus on four areas: grazing management, feed productions, innovation and food waste. We believe through science that this will make a difference. It is important for everyone to understand that this industry does a lot to help better the world.
We’re also exploring different practices with ranchers, such as grazing management planning and adaptive management, to understand how they impact sustainability outcomes related to carbon storage, wildlife habitats, water and other ecological and economic parameters.