Like other industries, the future of the U.S. sheep industry ultimately depends on the ability of young people to be interested in lamb and wool and staying in business.
The American Sheep Industry Association recognized this and a few years ago started the Young Entrepreneurs Committee. North Dakota producer and past ASI president Burdell Johnson is chairman and said the young people have taken ownership in the committee and their industry.
“This group and the young people who have come in and have done a tremendous job of not only attending, but also being leaders,” said Johnson. “They know their role is very important for the future of the industry and they’re doing an awesome job.”
During this year’s ASI convention in New Orleans, one of the Young Entrepreneurs Committee activities was a lamb cook-off contest. Five teams competed for bragging rights and the event featured a surprise visit by the Marriott of New Orleans executive chef Thorsten Leighty, who explained why he’s such a big fan of American lamb.
“What we love about American lamb is it’s just so versatile and meaty plus the flavor profile is fantastic compared to lamb from Australia or New Zealand,” said Leighty.
Pete Camino is a member of the American Lamb Board from Buffalo, Wyoming and said lamb checkoff dollars are being used to help grow consumer demand by offering lamb recipes.
“We have social media bloggers on the coasts and have just now moved into Denver,” said Camino. “These bloggers are constantly putting out recipes on the different uses of lamb. If you want to visit the American Lamb Board website, it will tell you how to find these recipes.”
This year’s young entrepreneurs lamb cook-off winning team included Jake Benson of Utah, Brooke Hendrickx of Minnesota and Brady Springer of Colorado. Their winning dish was 305 Lamb.
“It’s kind of a spin-off of gumbo,” said Hendrickx. “So, we used ground lamb, peppers, onions, garlic and some tomatoes. We did a sauce of marinara but added Cayan pepper along with some red pepper flakes to give it a little bit of heat that we thought everyone would love.”
If people would like to check out some lamb recipes, visit here.
Reporting by Russell Nemetz for MTN News