As food costs rise, chefs are searching for new solutions to offer flavorful menu items at an affordable price. Members of the International Corporate Chefs Association who attended the Culinary Innovation Workshop this fall came away with a full plate of new possibilities with pork.

“Chefs are looking to put more pork on their menus, and a professional event like this gives them a chance to work with new cuts and learn where these cuts come from.” says Kevin Ryan, executive director of the Florida-based ICCA.

During the three-and-a-half day workshop at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in California, 12 corporate chefs from the nation’s largest restaurant chains, including Applebees, Mimi’s Café, O’Charley’s, Papa John’s, Quizno’s, Bertucci’s, and other food service operations, learned about the pork industry and good pork production practices. The chefs represent 14,000 restaurant locations in the U.S.

The chefs had the opportunity to cook with innovative, new pork products from Hormel, Seaboard Foods, Maverick Ranch Natural Meats, DiLuigi Sausage, Pioneer Meats, Porchetta Primata, Ed Miniat, La Quercia and Cargill Meat Solutions. New options included six different flavored bacons, boneless “pig wings,” and cook-in-the-bag spare ribs.

David Reinecker, a Pennsylvania pork producer who attended the Culinary Innovation Workshop, says he was impressed with the chefs’ detailed questions about pork. “Many of those questions centered on the care of our animals back on our farms.  Today’s chefs and consumers want to have a connection with and knowledge of the food they eat and the farms that produce this food.”

Source: National Pork Board