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Rising food prices affect local eateries

Kyle Barnett -   Nov 22, 2012

Rising food prices affect local eateries

Rising food costs are causing some area chefs to rethink their menus and their ability to serve certain types of food.

Blaine Guillot is the director of food and nutrition at St. Charles Parish Hospital and chef of The Oysterís Pearl, the hospitalís cafeteria.

The Ama resident was named as one of the top 30 chefs in Louisiana this year.

He said after consulting the U.S. Department of Agricultureís statistics on food prices, he is planning on an increase in the price of foods, especially meat, in the upcoming months.

"Every year Iíve seen prices go up, but not as dramatically as they are predicting them to be this coming year," Guillot said.

According to the USDA, about 80 percent of agricultural lands across the country experienced drought this year, which is the worst since 1950. The drought also affected 60 percent of the cattle production and 75 percent of the corn crop.

Because of this Guillot said food prices are expected to increase more than usual.

"Food away from home this year is anticipated to go up 3 to 4 percent," he said.

Guillot said the biggest price increases are expected to be in meats, with beef leading the way at a projected high increase of six percent.

In order to keep priceís low for his customers, many who come from the community to have lunch at the hospital, he said he will keep a close eye on food price trends and change some of the establishmentís offerings.

"We havenít really seen the increase yet, but we know the increase is coming so weíve projected an annual increase for next year," Guillot said. "We are going to look at redesigning our menu."

For those who are cooking at home, Guillot said their prices will also go up.

He suggests that with the projected rise in the price of beef, consumers may want to shy away from prime cuts.

"There are different types of beef options that are cheap," Guillot said. "What a lot of people donít know is that the cheap cuts of beef have the most flavor, but you have to cook them correctly in order for it to come out right. A tenderloin, a filet mignon, a rib eye you canít mess up–you have to know the different types you can grill and what types you can roast, braise or put in a crock pot."

In addition to using cheaper cuts of meat, Guillot said there are other things people can do to account for the rising cost of meat.

"At home there are a lot of vegetables you can substitute with and a lot of different things you can substitute with to offset the cost," Guillot. "If they desire to have the expensive cuts of beef cut the portion sizes down."

Guillot said that grocery prices should continue to increase.

"Everybody that buys groceries knows the prices have gone up. Every year you go to the store, you spend more," Guillot said.

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