As diner demand continues to drive globally inspired dishes, chefs are turning to Australian lamb for its delicious taste and versatility. As Toronto chef Matt Rosen explains, it’s “a tasty new way to think about protein.”
Chef Matt Rosen
As a 30-year industry professional, Rosen’s focus these last few years has been on catering, as he works towards opening a brick-and-mortar location for his restaurant, Molly’s Kitchen, later this year. Rosen recognizes that customers can be hesitant to order lamb off the menu, as they’re often under the impression that the flavour is too strong or too earthy. However, “one of the great things about Australian lamb is that it has a really clean, mild, delicious flavour,” he says.
Rosen, after attending an Aussie Lamb educational event at the Culinary Vegetable Institute in Ohio, was thrilled to join the Lambassador program. “When I really got to start tasting the lamb and speaking to the experts about their product, I was so inspired by the whole project and the passion behind the program.”
As a Lambassador, Rosen, along with other food professionals who share his passion for cooking lamb, has partnered with Aussie Beef and Lamb as a volunteer to help increase product awareness around the world.
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So, how can chefs work on getting more lamb on the menu? The key is getting people out of standard orders and excited to taste something new. According to Technomic, 73 per cent of diners are more likely to visit a restaurant featuring new flavours and 66 per cent are likely to spend more on unique tastes.
Rosen recommends blending the new with the nostalgic to encourage customers to stray from their trusted favourites, using examples like sandwiches, sloppy joes, and hotdogs. “There are so many new ways to integrate flavours. The idea is to play on what people know and give it to them in an unexpected, delicious way,” he says, explaining his idea to replace the tried-and-true shaved roast beef sandwich with a leg of lamb.
He also notes that consumers might have the impression that lamb is an elevated ingredient or that it’s complicated to prepare, which could discourage people from trying it in their homes. Chefs can make it accessible and are trusted to make unfamiliar foods delicious.
With its clean and mild taste, Australian lamb lends itself nicely to an almost endless array of possibilities on restaurant menus. Rosen advises chefs to branch out and look to other regions of the world to incorporate new spice mixes and flavour profiles that will appeal to their guests.
“It’s our job as chefs to expose people to new things with our passion,” he says, describing some of the dishes he’s created for events to show off Australian lamb’s versatility. Dumplings with Indian or Chinese influence, jerk lamb rack, and Mexican street corn with pulled lamb are a few of his favourite unique and interesting lamb creations.
“I am passionate about Australian lamb and am excited for more people to give it a try and make it their new favourite protein,” Rosen says. The sky’s the limit with Australian lamb on the menu, with chefs like Matt Rosen twisting its taste and versatility to delicious effect.
To contact Chef Rosen, reach out through Instagram at @matty_rosen or @mollies_kitchen_catering.