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CHEF COMPETITION HELPS CELEBRATE USMEF 15TH ANNIVERSARY IN MEXICO

A chef competition in early August featuring chefs from Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean helped celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in Mexico. The event showcased high quality U.S. beef, pork and lamb items in recipes that competed on originality, versatility and nutrition.

Three winners in each category received a U.S. cuisine tour, including stops in New York City and San Francisco and a seminar at the Culinary Institute of America in California. Winners also received a trophy and $1,000. Finally, the recipes of winners will appear in the seventh USMEF Gastronomy Contest Book, which will be printed next year.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase what U.S. beef and pork can do in traditional and regional recipes”, according to Chad Russell, USMEF Mexico director. "Those participating enjoyed working with products that are both high quality and versatile.”

Entries in the contest were submitted in the Originality, Versatility and Nutrition categories. Originality entries were judged on their combination of ingredients and flavors that were original to U.S. meat. Those in Versatility had connection to the local culture and were used for either a special event or day-to-day dining. Nutrition dishes were judged on their combination and balance of ingredients and required to highlight the nutritional attributes of U.S. meat cuts.

Winners in the Carribbean contest represented Café Lido (Bermuda), Tucker's Point Club (Bermuda), Elbow's Beach Resort (Bermuda), Aruba Resorts and Casino (Aruba), Oualie Beach Resort (Nevis) and the Atlantis Resort and Casino (Bahamas).

Winners of the Mexico and Dominican Republic contest represented Restaurante Au pied de Couchon (Mexico City), Novohotel (Monterrey), Café Des Artistes (Puerto Vallarta), Les Moustaches (Mexico City), Quintana Real Hotel (Monterrey), Gran Bahia Principe Bavaro Hotel (Dominican Republic), Dreams Hotel (Cancun), La Panga Antigua (San Jose del Cabo) and Pat e Palo (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic).

Judges in the contest were leading chefs of well-known Mexican restaurants, as well as a dietitian from the Mexican Institute of Medical and Nutritional Sciences.

In addition to the chef competition, a First Gastronomy Specialized Press Award was presented by selected journalists to one of the contestants. The winner was Chef Hugo Ahumada of the Des Artistes Restaurant in Puerto Vallarta.

“U.S. meat definitely complements the wonderful traditional ingredients from south of the border in the dishes prepared by these chefs,” said Russell. “As these chefs demonstrated, U.S. meat is a perfect addition to Latin American meals and helps address the increasing demand for meat in Mexico.”

Through June, the United States exported beef, pork and lamb worth more than $900 million to Mexico, the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic.

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