Pigs in Space

YES, one of my favourite Muppet segments. Pigs in space could also apply to the gap Australian Pork has filled in a meat market which has remained pretty stable over the past decade. So pork is literally eating into other meat competitors - up from 9 per cent to 13.5 per cent out of home, and up 2kg annually in-home.

In addition to the long-running Pork Stars media campaign, via @MitchEdwards and his mega marketing crew - aka Kylie, Katana, Venessa & Vivien – the team also allow time for a bit of navel gazing. The third annual symposium from Australian Pork Limited brought together people from across the foodservice industry for a day of discussion, learning and networking. This year’s symposium, at North Ryde TAFE, looked at everything from the science of menu design and the drought to staff retention and the effective social media use.

Among the panellists were “pub chef” Colin Fassnidge who - after his session rocketed down to Nowra TAFE to prepare a lunch - spoke of his nose to tail approach which was virtually unheard of when he opened at the Four-in-Hand all those years ago. Indeed I remember the pig’s head brawn, pig’s ear schnitties and whole beasts plonked on tables at various Fassnidge feasts many moons ago.

While the rising price and scarcity of pork ribs put a focus on other undervalued non-primaries, there was also discussion about the 39 per cent dropout rate of apprentices to their lack of butchery skills.

While there was some bad news, it was also good to hear from emerging/returning chefs, among them the talented Simon McNamara (ex Trippas, now club group Wests Group Macarthur), the industrious Alex Patterson (twice ClubsNSW Chef’s Table award winner from Toukley RSL), the determined Deniz Coskun from Brisbane’s Mantle Hospitality (and now behind the new Squire’s Landing at Circular Quay), the delightful Amanda Fuller (ex Oliver Peyton, UK and now The Sam Prince Hospitality Group), the multi-skilled Craig Macindoe (ex Hard Rock and Mumu Grill and now managing Kensington St) and the inspiring Tawnya Bahr (Straight to the Source). Each of them offered their own particular take on an issue affecting the industry, be it starting in business, the treatment of staff, or the dramatic changes in the dining scene.

From the other side of the pass there was information on pork production (5.5 million animals a year) from APL’s Peter Haydon, and Dr Robert Smits with details from Australia biggest producer (Riverlea) as well as tips on menu design and pricing positioning from Bri Williams and Ryan Shelley on how to get to grips with social media. All in all a wide and varied offering across all spectrums of the hospitality industry.

Mitch said the free event was a chance for people to come together, meet and discuss pertinent industry issues.

“This is a diverse industry that is facing both complex challenges and opportunities, but we’re really pleased to see how well this event has resonated,” Mitch said.

“Events like this normally come with a high price tag, but this was about strengthening the industry and providing an opportunity for people to access this kind of discussion, which will benefit them and the Australian pork industry.

“This event is a cornerstone of the Inspired by Australian Pork program, which was designed to support those in the sector through inspiration and education. The program’s website has also just been launched, as a resource centre enabling people to access recipes, cut charts, plus other resources.”

In you missed it, there will be more information and highlights from the Symposium here soon www.inspiredbyaustralianpork.com.au

Grant Jones