Chow Bella

Local Butcher Takes Home Gold in National Meat-Cutting Challenge

Meat Cutting: A Lost Art?

But seriously, have you ever stopped to think about just how much skill it takes to cut a huge hunk of meat into sellable steaks?

Local butcher Chris McFarland has. In fact, he's probably spent more hours standing in a 32-degree walk-in freezer thinking about hand-cutting steaks than just about anybody you know.

You could call McFarland, 21, a prodigy in the meat-cutting world. Last week, he won first place -- and $20,000 -- in a national meat-cutting challenge held in Orlando, Florida.

Not only is he the youngest person to win the title of "Meat Cutter of the Year," he also did so by achieving the highest score ever in the competition.

Well, that's all fine and dandy, but if you're wondering how exactly a meat-cutting competition is judged, you're not alone. So we sat down with the champ to find out just that.

As McFarland explains in our video, meat-cutters are judged by the weight of meat they "waste" by having to trim from their steaks, or in meat-cutting terms, the yield. A higher yield means less wasted meat and, therefore, a higher score. Scores also are affected by speed and quality. As McFarland explains, many restaurants opt to use machine-cut steaks, in part, because of the thousands of dollars and many hours needed to train a meat cutter.

"As a meat cutter, I always think of serving every steak to my mom," says McFarland.

McFarland hand-cuts every steak at the Texas Roadhouse in Peoria and spends anywhere between seven to eight hours a day cutting meat in the restaurant's frigid walk-in cooler. In an average year, McFarland cuts an estimated $1 million worth of meat.

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