Canadian menus are going global, highlighting Australian lamb in some of their most popular restaurant dishes. It offers a clean, delicious taste and is also free from additives, humanely sourced, and pasture-raised, making it a powerful protein for restaurant menus.
Australian lamb’s growing popularity is also thanks to the attention of people like David Godsoe, executive chef at The Eighteen Hospitality Group, home to five restaurants and growing. “Lamb in Canada has not been given the same attention as chicken, beef, and pork as a protein,” he says. “But people are really impressed when they try it. The hope is that they buy it at the store after trying it at the restaurant, and that’s where the Lambassador program comes in.”
The Lambassador program is a global initiative that partners volunteering food professionals who are passionate about cooking lamb with Aussie Beef and Lamb to help raise awareness for the product around the world.
Godsoe first got involved with the program when a friend invited him on a trip to the Culinary Vegetable Institute in Ohio, where Australian lamb was being featured. He was already using the lamb on his menus but learning about Australia’s sustainability practices and working with the product really solidified his support.
He notes that the superior product challenges the common notion that just because something is raised next door means that it is raised better. “It is incredibly consistent, which is crucial to restaurants. Providing that same experience and delivering the same product time and time again at the same high level is what has guests coming back.”
It’s surprisingly versatile, too. While traditional cuts like lamb shank or leg of lamb are always delicious, there are so many ways that lamb can elevate a restaurant’s menu. Godsoe emphasizes its mild, flavourful taste which lends itself to an array of menu options, like his restaurant’s lamb-chetta, their creative take on a pancetta alternative, highlighting the lamb belly as the star.
He advises chefs to adapt the product to their restaurant concept, giving it some time to catch on with their clientele. Godsoe started by adding lamb to his tasting menus, progressing to passing out lamb lollipop canapés at events, and the lamb gets rave reviews from his guests.
At a recent event he hosted, Godsoe experimented with lamb tartare, giving guests a creative way to and delicious way to try the lamb. And he encourages other chefs to do the same! “Don’t be scared to work with it. There are cuts that work for all price points; a braised lamb and lentil curry can add a twist to your menu. Your guests will love its versatility.”
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Godsoe says he even has some customers who visit his restaurants strictly to order the lamb – and that includes his dad. “Because they rarely have it at home, my dad always orders it when he comes in.” Once it’s added to the menu as a regular feature, chefs can switch it up throughout the year for more seasonal flavours and watch its popularity grow.
Chef Godsoe is excited to watch the diner demand for Australian lamb continue to gain momentum in Canada. “The Lambassador program is still growing in Canada, but I cannot wait to see what we can do to further inspire chefs and restaurateurs to get on board and highlight this amazing product on their menus.”