Why is Australian beef the greatest? Celebrity chef Curtis Stone says he has been asked that question a lot by media over the last few days at Beef 2018 in Rockhampton, and in his view the answer lies in the ‘culture’ of the Australian beef industry.
“We have a lot of family owned farms still in Australia,” he said during an MLA forum at Beef 2018 yesterday.
“There are a lot of small farmers in Australia, there is a lot of care about our industry, and it shows right here, it is a beautiful experience.
“There is something really cool about the spirit of the Australian countryside and how brought to life it is in an environment like this (the Beef Australia expo). It is something we should really celebrate.”
However, Mr Stone, who today runs his own restaurant and butcher shop in the United States, said it was important the Australian beef industry continued to promote its strengths, and did all it could to be as transparent as possible.
While it was easy for Australians to form the perception that Australian beef is the best, the same was true for other countries, and Australia had to work hard to ensure its qualities were communicated.
“If we don’t tell them much, they are not going to think much about it.
“How we continue to talk about our product is really important.
“I do think we start in a really good place as Aussies and our perceptions is really strong and really positive, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reinforce that perception and develop it and grow it.”
Transparency was also of key importance in the modern food industry.
“Transparency is so important for our business, in many ways it makes you clean up your business,” he said.
“You start thinking about, ‘well, if I have to tell someone everything, then do I have to change something?’
“If the answer is yes, then you have to have a good look at it and figure out ways to be really good and when you can be really transparent, I think it is really valuable.
‘you are much more confident walking into a fight knowing you can throw a punch’
“As soon as you start thinking in that way, you start making changes and adaptions as to what you do, and then when we compete with, whether it is different proteins or pretend proteins, you are much more confident walking into a fight knowing you can throw a punch, you know what I mean?”
“Authenticity and transparency is super important, it is a huge trend and I think people are more than ever super interested in where their food comes from and how it got there and what breed it is and all the rest of it.”
Mission to create the ‘great Australian barbecue’
Mr Stone said he is on a mission to create the great Australian barbecue.
While Australian culture revolved around barbecues with friends and family, Australia’s method of barbecuing was ‘horrible’, he said.
“We cook on these gas barbecues that have hot plates and they’re not even, there is absolutely no advantage to it, apart from the fact you can stand around and drink a stubbie while you do it.
“I am here and cooking the whole weekend around charcoal and wood burning brills, I have built a whole restaurant around wood burning grills, tapping into different cultures, what we found in Argentina and different parts of the world, charcoal and wood burning.”
Asked by MC Pete Lewis if he had a design for the great Australian barbecue in mind, he said a key component surrounded the type of fuel that was used.
“You need some sort of smokiness, especially if you are cooking something with a bit of fat in it, a nicely marbled steak, then you want that rendering fat to come down and hit the charcoal or wood and then get those little licks of smoke that come up and really add flavour to what you are doing in your barbecuing.”