Stan Smith, Ohio Beef Council treasurer, Ty Higgins, with Ohio Farm Bureau and Erin Stickel, chair of the Ohio Beef Council Operating Committee were impressed with the new Ohio Beef Council Culinary Studio.

Ohio Beef Council Culinary Studio a sizzling success

By Briana Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

The Ohio Beef Council (OBC) recently invested in a new culinary studio that will surely have social media followers liking, sharing, and commenting. After reaching an agreement with  the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and the Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation, the existing kitchen in the building that houses the three entities was totally remodeled.

Recent studies conducted by the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Foundation have shown that 64% of Americans choose to cook their dinners at home to save money and make healthier eating choices. Additionally, they’re turning to social media to find recipe information and how-to cooking videos. More than half (54%) of consumers reported using TikTok and YouTube to learn a new recipe or cooking technique. 

Elizabeth Harsh, Executive Director of the Ohio Beef Council, said the Council recognized this shift as an opportunity to reach consumers where they are: watching videos and multimedia content online. 

“The mission of the Ohio Beef Council is to utilize Beef Checkoff dollars to grow consumer demand and awareness for beef. OBC currently leases space out of the office, and we did have a kitchen on-site, but it was very dated. It just didn’t look like what consumers have in their homes today,” Harsh said. 

Erin Stickel, chair of the Ohio Beef Council Operating Committee and commercial cattle producer, shared that the board saw a need and had the budget to execute this kind of project.

“During COVID, a lot of our usual programming had to halt. The Ohio Beef Council board was looking at our long-range plan and took into consideration the shift in consumer preferences. We saw an opportunity to be more strategic and purposeful in our video production, and content creation for consumer marketing in beef education and nutritional resources. We also knew that we had the opportunity to utilize checkoff dollars from programming shifts after the COVID era,” Stickel said.

The Ohio Beef Council had already shifted some of their marketing efforts to create more video-based content and the board saw this as a way to enhance these efforts.

“We had a small kitchen in our existing facility and saw other commodity groups effectively utilize a more studio-style space. We can only utilize checkoff dollars for promotion and consumer marketing efforts, so we, the board as a whole, decided to invest in our own facilities and equipment to dive deeper into this digital space with this new Culinary Studio. Our goal was for staff to utilize the new space for consumer marketing, nutrition education and to enhance and develop strategic relationships with chefs and social media influencers,” Stickel said. 

Once the board approved the decision, the project came together in a matter of a few months, Harsh said.

“The board for the Ohio Beef Council looked at the kitchen early last summer and started envisioning what it could be. From there, the project really came to fruition quickly. We finished building the kitchen in December and then pretty much had everything wrapped up by the first of this year,” Harsh said. 

The new kitchen is double the size of the old kitchen and has a modern, sleek look. The Ohio Beef Council also invested in equipment for content and video creation, like lights, microphones, and newer cameras. The kitchen also has a flat screen monitor, which OBC staff hope to utilize with tour groups, classes, and visitors. 

“The new Culinary Studio will allow OBC to implement all the marketing tactics in our wheelhouse. Historically, we have always worked with food bloggers. We add to their understanding of the beef industry, get them to a farm, and give them a pasture-to-plate experience. Now we have a nice space where they can curate a beef recipe,” Harsh said.

Ohio Beef Council hopes to use the space in collaboration with groups like Ohio State University Extension to host events, such as beef and wine pairings, and open it to classes from surrounding colleges, like the Barbecue Science class at Ohio State, to teach students about cooking beef.  

Anna Gest, the Manager of Nutrition Education Programs for Ohio Beef Council, will be working with universities to bring dietitian students on site as well.  She also plans to use the studio to create content for the OBC social channels that promote beef as part of a healthy diet.

The Ohio Beef Council is excited to open the Culinary Studio to local Ohio chefs as well. 

Chef Wayne Lewis, a semifinalist on Master Chef, owner of 60 Minute Chef, and founder of 614 Media Group, recently visited the Culinary Studio to film a few videos for social media. 

Chef Wayne Lewis, a semifinalist on Master Chef, owner of 60 Minute Chef, and founder of 614 Media Group, recently visited the Culinary Studio to film a few videos for social media. 

“The studio kitchen they’ve built is really a big stage that any chef would love to perform on. It’s wide-open and has all the tools you need to create amazing food,” Lewis said. “The Ohio Beef Council has built an amazing kitchen that any chef would be eager to work in. I can’t wait to do it again!”

So far, the new Culinary Studio has already been met with enthusiasm from many guests. They recently hosted an open house.

“The entire board is thrilled with the final product,” Stickel said. “Our team of staff at OBC did a fantastic job managing the budget to implement this plan, and we are ecstatic about the outcome. It’s a modern and engaging space where we can host and develop outstanding content on behalf of Ohio’s beef industry.”

The new space frees up additional promotional dollars for other ways to publicize beef marketing and education.  

“It’s important to note,” Harsh said, “that in the past, we would rent facilities and outsource everything. We just did a video in our new Culinary Studio with Brutus Buckeye for the Ohio State 4Miler run, which was a project we used to have to pay to shoot.” 

The Culinary Studio was used for a video shoot with Brutus Buckeye for the Ohio State 4Miler run.

The opportunities to deliver juicy beef content to new consumers in Ohio are now endless with the new facility. 

“As a producer, I am confident that Ohio Beef Council staff is utilizing our checkoff dollars for the development of beef demand to demographics in all corners of the state,” Stickel said. 

The Ohio Beef Council is a non-profit 501(c)(5) organization charged with the promotion and marketing of beef and beef products in Ohio. OBC can be found on Instagram at @OhioBeef and on TikTok at @Ohio_Beef_Council. 

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