National meat-cutting competition held in Kissimmee benefits charity

Published On: Feb 25 2014 06:13:54 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 25 2014 08:34:08 PM EST
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -

Forget the Winter Olympics; an unusual championship is taking place in Kissimmee. The best meat cutters in the nation are at the Ice Factory, vying for a national title and helping some local charities in the process.

This is the 10th year for the Texas Roadhouse Meat Cutter of the Year Challenge. The top 87 butchers from across the country competed on Tuesday. Twenty-four will continue Wednesday in hopes of making the final eight.

The goal is to create the highest-quality steaks, with the highest yield, in 80 minutes.

Jason Mennie serves as director of Legendary Food for Texas Roadhouse. It's his job to determine who makes the cut. Each steak requires specific dimensions.

"We're cutting sirloin. We're cutting filet. We're cutting rib-eye. It really is cut and dry whether it's legendary or not," said Mennie.

Not only do these guys race the clock, they face the challenge of working next to one another. Typically this is a solitary job.

Javier Valdez is the top-ranked Florida cutter. He estimates he cuts about a thousand steaks a day at the Kissimee location.

"It's a learning process. It's more than just cutting. It takes a while," he said.

Gustavo Jimenez won the grand prize of $20,000 last year. With three kids, he tells Local 6 the cash was a big help.

"It was life-changing," he said.

Wondering what happens to all the meat? About 200 pounds will be donated to the St. Cloud Food Pantry. And Wednesday, the remaining meat will be grilled for a lunch benefiting Give Kids the World. Tickets to that event are $10 per person.

The eight finalists selected Wednesday will compete for the grand prize and the title of Meat Cutter of the Year in April.