Dave Zino makes sure there's a big bowl of fruit at all times in the staff kitchen of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association recipe testing facilities. This week in Omnivorous I wrote about Zino and his staff of eight (plus a half-dozen part-timers), who beaver away every day high above Michigan Avenue trying to figure out ways to get consumers to eat more beef. I went in imagining they'd all be hunched over in a collective perpetual gut clutch for all the cow they consume, but everyone seemed upright, cheerful, and happy to be in the service of Big Red Meat.
Here Zino further describes the birth of a typical recipe that he and his crew would develop for the NCBA's promotional juggernaut: "They're gonna say, 'We want a roast recipe,' 'We want some appetizers,' or 'It's a spring color page and we want a steak salad.' So we'll come up with concepts, the program manager will approve them, and then we'll go into the kitchen and start working. Every recipe is tested extensively. We test on gas, on electric. If it's a grilling recipe, we'll test it on charcoal and gas. We've got a coal stove back there, electric range, flattop, and gas. Once we get it to the point we're comfortable with, we turn it over to another tester who comes in kind of like the consumer. They just take the recipe, and they create it, and then come back with feedback."
He says the average recipe takes about six days to develop.