When the editors of The National Provisioner asked me to write a monthly column, I wondered, “What would readers really want to learn from me?” I think the answer is, how can you sell more meat … from a chef’s perspective? How can you stand out from the crowded field of meat processors who are offering essentially the same products?

You have to sell in a way that chefs can relate. At least that’s the topic for this, my first “Chef’s Perspective” column. Furthermore, to make future columns add even more value to this space, please send me questions, challenges and comments. I’ll answer every question and offer possible solutions, from a chef’s perspective.

First, a snapshot of my background — I grew up in the restaurant business and haven’t done anything else. I started frying donuts at age 15 and progressed through the ranks of casual and fine dining.

Along the way, I got degrees in culinary arts, culinary history and museum studies.

Sounds odd, I know. But I’m interested in why we eat what we eat, thousands of years ago, today and tomorrow. Most recently I was vice president of culinary development for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide. Today I consult for Niman Ranch, Wolfgang Puck, Kikkoman and Nestle, concentrating on developing culinary concepts for foodservice, retail and manufacturing.

How will having a chef’s perspective help you sell more meat? Simply put, chefs make the meat-buying decisions in all kinds of venues, from family operations to multi-unit chains. Yet strategies for grabbing our attention are often dated or under-developed.

So, you asked for it…here’s a chef’s Top Ten List for Selling More Meat …

  1. Know the menu you’re targeting … not just what’s on it today, but what the chef wants to add — and, maybe most importantly, what meats have been recently deleted.
  2. Know what other cuts the chef uses and who the vendor is.
  3. Know what equipment is in the chef’s kitchen.
  4. Know the menu prices and what the chef can afford. For example, $12 average menu price - 25% average food cost = $3 CGS
  5. Think how the chef thinks … in ounces for both portions and costs.
  6. Don’t let the chef fall in love with what he or shecannot afford.
  7. Match underutilized cuts relevant to price point and equipment.
  8. Offer solutions … Make the chef’s job easier.
  9. Tell the chef you’ll add value by marinating, rubbing, skewering and chopping.
  10. Hire a chef of your own. Not as a salesperson, but as a chef. Someone who wears a chef’s jacket, works in a kitchen on value-added solutions and can talk the talk.

Always remember: Chefs can’t do without beef, and it’s your job to offer solutions, not just write orders. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Beef offers irreplaceable value
  • Consumer/patron preference/demand
  • Beef = versatile, valuable ingredient
  • Offers unique craving/emotional enjoyment
  • Beef can instantly upgrade a menu
  • Beef has 99% penetration on menus (it’s not eroding, but needs expanding)
  • Beef taste trumps all foods among consumers
  • Beef = Reward
  • Positive nutritional story
  • Operators switching to underutilized cuts

Let me know your thoughts, questions and topics for future articles. Andrew@Culinary-Craft.com.