PHOTO GALLERY: Food influencers, chefs converge at AgriLife, Lamb Board retreat

By Reid Redden

SAN ANGELO — A handpicked selection of two dozen chefs, butchers, retailers, food writers and bloggers recently descended upon the Hillingdon Ranch near Comfort for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and American Lamb Board’s inaugural retreat.

Attendee Ali Kahn, host of the television show “Cheap Eats” and a food blogger, said it was some of the best lamb he’d ever tasted. Other influencers had similar feedback, with many blogging or tweeting live during the day-long event. “We were really excited by all the positive feedback we received during and after the event,” said Dr. Reid Redden, AgriLife Extension sheep and goat specialist, San Angelo. “We wanted this to be a day of food and fun, but also increase awareness of how modern ranches operate to preserve the legacy of their ranching history and remain sustainable for future generations. We also wanted to increase education and expand how people think of lamb and mutton in a culinary context.”

Lunch featured a variety of recipes utilizing both lamb and mutton, which were cooked on-site, allowing participants to compare and contrast the flavors of the meat. Dishes included Korean-inspired kabobs, Greek-style meatballs and meat cooked on a spit, featuring various cuts to be sampled, including ribs.

Newsom Vineyards was also on-hand to provide wine pairing suggestions during lunch and to explain which types of grapes best compliment lamb and mutton dishes.

The event provides food professionals and influencers with comprehensive instruction on lamb and mutton, including rearing, butchering and meal preparation.

The event concluded at 4 p.m. with participants taking home AgriLife Extension and American Lamb Board educational materials, wool socks, lamb-themed products, recipe inspirations and commemorative wine glasses.

“It was important to us that people start to think about all the uses for sheep – both for food and fiber,” said Redden. “More and more Americans are choosing lamb and wool-based products, and we’re excited to be able to be a part of the movement to encourage and educate people to enjoy homegrown lamb and buy USA-made wool textiles.” There aren’t many things more renewable and sustainable than food and fiber products produced from a 130-year-old family ranch, he said.

Redden presented a professional shearing demonstration and explained it’s necessity to the animal’s health and well-being. Independence Wool’s Dawn Brown discussed wool processing and showed garments created from Hillingdon wool and mohair.

After lunch, Dr. Dan Hale, AgriLife Extension meat specialist, College Station, provided a butchering demonstration and explained the various cuts. Participating chefs also shared some of the tips and tricks from their own professional kitchens.

The day started at 10 a.m. with a modern-day hayride, using ATVs and pickup trucks with hay bales in the beds. Participants explored the 130-year-old Hillingdon Ranch, learning about its history and touring the sheep pastures.


Via source AgriLife Today | PHOTO GALLERY: Food influencers, chefs converge at AgriLife, Lamb Board retreat

For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Kaitlyn Harkin at or (979) 845-1542.

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