Butchers from across the North East region turned out to compete in the North East Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI) Best Beef Butcher competition on Thursday, May 12. The competition was held in conjunction with the annual Pennsylvania Meat Processors Conference and was held at the Penn State Meat Lab in State College, Pennsylvania.
Michael Schnalzer, of Slate Belt Butchery in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, won honorable mention for third place. Joseph Malafy of Malafy’s Meat Processing in Red Hook, New York, took second best beef butcher honors, and the overall winner of the contest went to Josh Williams of Farmstead Butcher in Frederick, Maryland.
“It’s good to have [a] competition dedicated to showcasing the skills we use every day and allowing us to put our knowledge to the test,” said Josh Williams, winner of the 2022 competition. not to paint a faithful portrait [image] of what we do.
These butchers showcased their butchering skills in a one-on-one competition where they had 30 minutes to turn a chuck roll of subprimal beef into merchandising cuts, as well as give a sales pitch to consumers of two minutes and correctly identify 15 fresh cuts of beef.
This event was designed to celebrate the skills, knowledge and value independent butchers and meat processors bring to the entire beef supply chain. Without the passion and dedication to the art of butchery and meat cutting, beef consumers would not have as many choices and options available to them regarding the availability of beef.
The contest judges were Rick Fetrow, Senior Field Sales Consultant at Tyson Fresh Meats; Penn State Extension Butchery Student Billie Jo Keil; and Ben Williamson, an animal science instructor at Penn State University and board member of the Pennsylvania Beef Council (PBC).
The largest share of the contestants’ scores came from the 30-minute cutting portion, where they were asked to break down a roll of beef chuck and turn them into the following value cuts of beef: Delmonico steaks, Denver steaks , Sierra steaks, boneless country-style ribs and chuck roast. They were judged on the following criteria:
- Accuracy: How accurately did they craft the desired cuts of beef?
- Technical: knife skills/movement efficiency, safety technique, portioning, stripping and trimming
- Visual appeal: To what extent did they visually market, label and present their cuts to the consumer?
- Yield: What yield did they get from making these cuts of beef compared to the subprime starting weight?
- Consumer sales pitch: How well did the candidate deliver a concise, factual, engaging, and compelling sales pitch for their value cuts of beef? The judges asked them to “sell” to a hypothetical customer within two minutes.
In total, competitors had the opportunity to earn 100 points at the end of the competitions.
“This event allowed leading industry professionals to showcase the skills they use every day and the passion they have for the meat industry,” said Nichole Hockenberry, Executive Director of the PBC. “It’s an honor to see them showcase their craft which they have honed over the years.”
—Excerpt from a Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative press release