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Three expert Bell County meat cutters are on the hunt for a scorching prize in a high-stakes food contest where the cold comes into play.
The trio – temple residents Francisco Espino and Marco Torres, along with Daniel Porcayo of Killeen – will fight in the first round of the Qualifier Meat Cutting Challenge which features 13 meat cutters from Texas Roadhouse restaurants across the state.
The winners will advance to the semi-finals before the final event, the National Meat Cutting Challenge, which offers a top prize of $25,000.
Meat cutters spend seven to eight hours a day slicing meat in 35 degree cold rooms, necessary to maintain the freshness of the steak.
The competition will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Chaparral Ice Northcross, 2525 W. Anderson Lane in Austin, hence the need for cold and icy conditions.
Each meat cutter is responsible for hand-cutting every steak served at their local Texas Roadhouse, handling about $1 million worth of meat per year on average, according to the Louisville, Kentucky-based company.
“It really is an art,” Mike Castanada, Texas Roadhouse product coach, said in a press release. “We hold this annual competition to celebrate our professional meat cutters. We love our people and our meat cutting program is a way to show our appreciation and reward their hard work and dedication.
Other competitors come from Austin, Waco, Pflugerville, San Marcos, College Station, Edinburg, McAllen, Harlingen and Brownsville.
The company said each contestant receives 30 to 40 pounds of beef, consisting of a sirloin, tenderloin and rib eye to cut.
“Meat cutters are then judged on quality, efficiency and speed in this timed cut,” the company said in the release. “The winner is the one who produces the most steaks, with the best cut quality in the least amount of time. To ensure the highest quality, freshest meat, all cuts are made at a cold temperature of 38 degrees.
The top regional challengers will advance to the semi-finals in March where they will compete for the opportunity to compete in the 2022 national competition.
The final competition will also take place in March.
“The winner of the national competition receives a grand prize of $25,000 and is crowned Meat Cutter of the Year,” Texas Roadhouse said.
The contest is part of the company’s Meat Hero program, established in 2001, to recognize meat cutters.
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