Clifton Park ice arena hosts meat-cutting challenge; Dozens of steaks cut, judged

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CLIFTON PARK A winner was expected to be announced Monday night after the qualifying round of Texas Roadhouse’s Meat Cutting Challenge was held earlier in the day.

On Monday, 12 meat cutters from different Texas Roadhouse restaurants throughout New York and one from Vermont competed in the company’s annual Qualifier Meat Cutting Challenge. The Capitol Ice Arena in Clifton Park played home to this round of the competition.

Competitors cut dozens of steaks and the steaks were judged later that evening for their weight, size and a number of other specifications. The meat cutters had one hour to turn about 35 pounds of beef into the various cuts of meat.

The winner from Monday’s competition will go on to the regional round, which has about 50 participants from around the East Coast, Texas Roadhouse Product Coach Michael Davis said. The ultimate winner of the competition will receive $25,000.

Davis explained that competitors were used to the cooler temperatures inside the arena during the competition. “They cut all the steaks,” he said. “They’re in a cooler all day, eight to 10 hours, 36 degrees, just cutting fresh hand-cooked steaks all day long.”

Texas Roadhouse trains its meat cutters for an initial 20 days, Davis said. Their development never stops, he said, explaining that they attend classes, seminars and meetings like the competition Monday.

Steaks make up about 44% of the Texas Roadhouse menu, and the company reports meat cutters cut an average of $1 million of meat a year per restaurant.

“There’s a ton of education, because it’s a lot of money, so it’s real important that they know what they’re doing,” Davis said.

All of the steaks in the restaurant have their own specifications, Davis said. Competitor’s steaks are measured for their height, width and length, Davis explained, and they are also assessed for fat allowances and nerve allowances.

The judges measure the various types of steaks cut by competitors and see who is the most accurate in their finished cuts. Judges weigh every steak with a scale to see if it is within the three-tenths variance and measure the steaks with a ruler down to a sixteenth of an inch.

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