Steak 101: How meat-cutters prepare the ‘perfect cut’
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - February 6, 2020 - 6:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — It is non-arguable that good meat grade and right seasoning make a steak great but a great steak also starts with a perfect cut.

At restaurants, chefs are always recognized for their dishes but we rarely recognize the importance of the role of a meat-cutter.

A meat-cutter has to be skilled and precise in the way he hand-cuts the meat and ensure the steak’s best quality and flavor.

“Sabi nga, ‘yung chef is more about the science of cooking. For a steak, it will take a good steak and a good cut to have a legendary steak,” Cyril Reyes, director for operation of Texas Roadhouse told Philstar.com.

Reyes said that apart from cooks, meat-cutters should be recognized for being behind the good steaks because their work is not just about cutting and their skills have a huge effect on the quality of steak.

“Steak is different from just butchering poultries and pork products,” he noted.

Other butchers use machines for slicing frozen meat while meat cutters at the restaurant use knives and carving tools “to skillfully hand-cut each fresh primal and turn them into steaks."

They are also trained to make the best marbling to give steak its right flavor.

Reyes cited that meat-cutters take a lot in consideration including the yielding, the right thichkness, length, width and process.

The making of a meat-cutter

Take it from Joel Herher, a 37-year-old local meat-cutting champion at Texas Roadhouse who recently represented the Philippines at the first Regional Meat Cutter Challenge in Taipei, Taiwan.   

According to Reyes, Herher underwent around three to four months of training to check the consistency and accuracy of his meat-cutting skills.

Herher, roadie or a meat-cutter in Texas Roadhouse parlance, trained the precision of his work in a meat room at a chilly temperature that drops all the way to 1 degree Celsius. He had to train under a freezing temperature since the meat-cutting competition was held at an ice-skating rink.

The Filipino representative’s humble beginnings went all the way back in 2008 when he served as a butcher of a local meat shop and was designated in several supermarkets around Metro Manila

Prior to his meat-cutting career at Texas Roadhouse, he spent five years as a butcher for a big catering company in Qatar then decided to return to the country and joined The Bistro Group in 2007.

“I started as an all-around butcher for all the concepts before I was recommended to exclusively work for Texas Roadhouse where I studied the specifications and technicalities of steak-cutting. I was amazed because of all the new things I learned,” Herher was quoted as saying.

Herher shared his butcher-stint gained him knowledge on how to cut various meat.

“From the short loin, we cut our T-bones, top loins, tenderloins and the porterhouse steaks,” he said.

The award-winning meatcutter said it was at Texas Roadhouse when he further honed his meat-cutting skills.

What it takes to prepare a legendary steak

He said that steaks at this restaurant are legendary because they are meticulously defined, grilled to perfection, according to guests’ preferences.

Reyes, who was with Herher throughout his training highlighted the importance of yielding, citing that every cut must have precise measurements.

They shared that at Texas Roadhouse, rib eye should be portioned as 10oz, 12oz, and 16oz; while the bone-in cuts are pegged at 22oz. Sirloins (which are used in beef stews and steak rice) should be either at 6oz, 8oz, and 11oz while New York Strips should come in 8oz and 16oz only.

“Furthermore, meatcutters are required to cut a slab of of Ribe Eye (at 10z, for instance) into 18 portions, trimmings and wastage minimized,” the restaurant management said.

The meat transformations are cut in accordance with the criteria of the Texas Roadhouse branches around the world, according to the management.

It added that “important meat needs to be thawed for three to five days before we can actually clean fat trimmings and cut them accurately into specific steaks.”

Cutting challenge

Texas Roadhouse USA started the annual Meat Cutting Challenge more than a decade ago.

Branches in each country hold local competitions to determine the winner who will compete in the regional championship.

Champion butchers then advance to the international cut-off for a chance to win the grand prize of $20,000 and the coveted “Meat Cutter of the Year” award.

Herher said he was nervous during the competition but he managed to represent the Philippines with pride by just simply focusing on the challenge.

“First time ko sumali, may konting kaba pero focus lang (It's my first time to join a competition. I felt a bit nervous but just focused),” he said.

During the competition, each participant received approximately 40 pounds of beef to cut— sirloin,  filet and  rib-eye.  Their challenge was to cut meat into as many steaks as possible within an hour in a chilly 35 Celsius arena armed with their trusted knives and carving tools

The contestants are judged on the quality and precision of all the steaks in terms of length, width and height. They are also judged on quality, yield and speed. Whoever yields the most steaks with the highest quality cut in the least amount of time and the least wastage wins.

 “It was Mark Stephen himself, Texas Roadhouse’s International Director For Operations, who told us that the restaurant’s meat-cutters are the most important workers of the company. That felt good. I now have a special regard for myself, my fellow butchers here, and the vital role we play at Texas Roadhouse. I need to focus and always try to give all customers the perfect cut,” Herher concluded.

MEAT-CUTTER STEAK TEXAS ROADHOUSE
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