LEXINGTON, Ky. — Sullivan University’s College of Hospitality Studies Lexington campus and the program’s director have been recognized by the Kentucky Beef Council.
Sullivan’s program was given the Beef Backer Award by the Kentucky Beef Council at this year’s Kentucky Cattleman’s Association (KCA) convention, held Jan. 16-17 at the Owensboro Convention Center. The Beef Backer Award seeks to recognize retail and food service members who have demonstrated commitment to outstanding beef marketing, merchandising and/or menuing through beef check-off funding programs as well as through retailer/food service-originated been initiatives.
The Kentucky Beef Council also recognized chef John Foster, program director for the Sullivan’s Lexington campus’ College of Hospitality Studies, by awarding him the Kentucky Beef Council Service Award. It is presented to recipients that go above and beyond the call of duty to help farmers supply a safe and wholesome product and promote beef all at the same time.
“The Kentucky Beef Council truly values the partnership we have developed with Foster and Sullivan’s Center for Hospitality Studies in Lexington. They are good neighbors we can depend on and the relationship we have developed is a win-win for everyone,” said Alison Smith, who works with retail and foodservice for the Kentucky Beef Council. “We plan to continue to support Sullivan with not only our delicious protein, but with opportunities to learn about beef from pasture to plate.”
The Lexington campus received the Beef Backer award for 2019 for hosting influencer and marketing events for the Kentucky Beef Council over the last year. Students from the campus’ culinary program were involved in preparing hors d’oeuvres for these events.
Sullivan students also attended a workshop at the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture where they observed the breakdown of a beef carcass and met with experts who were in attendance. The award was accepted by chef Ian Hester on behalf of the campus.
Foster said the recognition from the Kentucky Beef Council is a “validation of all the hard work that goes into setting up and committing the time and the university to a meaningful community relationship.”
“The award recognizes everyone at Sullivan that put forth the effort to step up when asked and deliver in a professional manner,” Foster said. “The menus we choose have elements of beef marketing throughout the quarter, and the program is designed to reinforce that with every lab.”
“We are proud of the contribution the program, Chef Foster, the culinary faculty, and their students have made to the industry,” said Sullivan Lexington Campus Vice President David Tudor. “Opening our doors to community events has increased the visibility of our culinary program while also providing our students with opportunities that they would not have received otherwise.”
Foster is an avid supporter of the Kentucky Beef Council. He opened his department at 5 a.m. to cook beef bacon for last year’s conference attendees. In addition, he hosted several events at his restaurant, The Sage Rabbit, and hosted several influencer and marketing events in the Sullivan Lexington kitchens. Foster’s The Sage Rabbit restaurant in Lexington features a wide variety of farm to table dishes.
Foster said he enjoys cooking with beef and teaching students how to create their own beef dishes because of the versatility of the product, and the quality of Kentucky beef.
“Although other proteins have become more popular and there is a growing vegetarian initiative nationwide, beef still holds our attention in a way that no other ingredient does,” he said. “It challenges students and professionals to be technically sound and incredibly inventive.”
“But the favorite always ends up being the house ground burger,” he said. “The students love the challenge of working with big steaks on the grill and creating plates that feature newer cuts of beef in the more advanced classes.”
Sullivan and Foster promote beef “simply by recognizing the importance of beef in both retail and restaurants and putting the product and the process front and center in class and in my restaurant.”
“There is a constant presence on campus of local suppliers and local product,” he said. “I reference farm to table restaurants when speaking about internships, and we introduce students to the actual farmers when the opportunity arises.”
The Kentucky beef checkoff works on behalf of the state’s more than 38,000 cattle farmers. The mission of the beef checkoff is to increase consumer demand for beef through promotion, research, and education. While farmers are hard at work caring for their land and livestock, the beef checkoff is connecting with consumers to promote their product – delicious, wholesome beef.
For more information visit www.kybeef.com.