TRUE BEEF-The Film
Culinary Chef Mike Erickson sure has a lot on his plate these days! No pun intended. But, when you take into account the demands of teaching a high school culinary class, raising a family, and putting together a short film of epic proportions, it’s amazing to hear how energetic he sounds when you talk to him. Recently, I was able to visit with Mike about his students work to change the views of Agriculture by non-agricultural Americans, and specifically of Beef through their in process short film documentary titled “TRUE BEEF”- A front row seat film that follows high school culinary students and agricultural students as they learn about the marvelous Beef industry of Texas from pasture to plate.
Mike says the idea came about after teaching Culinary Science and having to show the highly criticized film “Food Inc.” Then, after being invited by the Texas Beef Council to spend time on a field trip of Kansas beef production with 40 other chefs and foodservice people he was inspired by what he saw of rural America and agriculture and wanted to share what he learned with his students. His sharing has taken on a colossal undertaking that could literally transform the way culinary science in high schools across America is taught.
So what happens when you and your students submit and win a small grant for producing a film, team up with Austin, Texas based film-producer David Barrow, and throw in some enthusiastic students of culinary arts and agriculture? Well, you come up with a learning experience that could very well be the next new thing in education. Mike talked about one of their first filming days. It happened that 10 of the culinary students were taken out to a farm to learn about how beef production starts. That day on the farm was a first for 9 of those students, and their learning experience was incredible. The film is being made during the student’s school year with coordinated field trips and in class lessons that enhance their learning. The students are following beef from where it originates to how it is finished, then on to butchering, and finally culminating in discovering the latest beef cooking trends in restaurants across Texas. The student’s emphasis is learning the facts of beef production by having first hand perspective of the beef industry.
The film shooting is about half-way complete with plans to wrap up filming in April, and then editing through May, June, and July. The goal is to be able to premiere the film around September 2014. That sounds like quite a feat being taken on by film maker David Barrow. David is editing the film while it is being shot, and not waiting until the end of shooting to go back and edit, so as to be able to launch in September. But, is the endeavor working?
I think the answer to that is discovered by watching their film trailer. The trailer is available now for preview at http://truebeefthefilm.com/trailer.html. I myself was amazed at the professional quality and the clear enthusiasm of the students. I particularly liked hearing about the MBA these students are pursuing. No, not that MBA, but the Masters of Beef Advocacy that each of the students will have as part of completing the project. It is a tribute to the leadership of their teacher Chef, Mike Erickson.
The film still has some financial need. If you would like to contribute to their film you can do so by visiting their site and making contact through this site, www.indiegogo.com/projects/true-beef-from-pasture-to-plate–2. The students hope that their film makes it into the ProStart curriculum that develops our great future leaders in food service. We at CHB for one don’t see why it wouldn’t. We are looking forward to seeing the finished product and hearing more about the bright future of these shining stars!