Meat cutters get chance to show off skills
Texas Roadhouse challenge to benefit youth hockey program

By AMANDA VOSS - Daily News

October 6, 2014

A plaque for the HERO program at Texas Roadhouse recognizing employee Josh Balthazor of West Bend at Texas Roadhouse on Thursday afternoon in West Bend. Balthazor has been competing in meat cutting challenges for the past two years around the country. Balothazor said he enjoys the freedom of cutting meat. 
Photo by John Ehlke


WEST BEND -
Texas Roadhouse meat cutters will sharpen their knives for round one of the Texas Roadhouse National Meat Cutting Challenge to benefit the Washington County Youth Hockey Association.

The meat-cutting challenge will be from 9:30-11 a.m. Oct. 9 at the Kettle Moraine Ice Center, 2330 S. Main St., in West Bend. A luncheon to benefit the Youth Hockey Association will be from noon-2 p.m in the upper lobby.

The challenge is part of the Meat Hero Program, created in 2001 to recognize the daily efforts of Texas Roadhouse meat cutters.

Matthew Smith, Texas Roadhouse product coach, said it’s an annual event and participants from Illinois and Wisconsin complete in the challenge to test their skills.

Smith said meat cutters at Texas Roadhouse spend 10 hours a day in a refrigerated room cutting the meat served in the restaurant. To match those frigid conditions competitors will compete on the ice.

Josh Balthazor of Kewaskum, a meat cutter at the West Bend Texas Roadhouse, will compete in the challenge.

Josh Balthazor of West Bend sits next to a rib-eye steak cut at Texas Roadhouse
on Thursday afternoon in West Bend. 

Photo by John Ehlke

Each participant receives 30-40 pounds of beef, which consists of two sirloins, one filet and one rib-eye. Meat cutters are judged on quality, yield and speed. The winning cutter will yield the most steaks with the highest quality cut in the least amount of time.

Balthazor started competing two years ago about three months after he started working at the restaurant. He made it to nationals in Philadelphia the first year he competed; last year he made it to regionals.

According to a Texas Roadhouse news release, two challengers will advance to the semifinals in February where they’ll compete for a chance to go to the national competition in Arizona. The winner is crowned Meat Cutter of the Year and wins $20,000.

Balthazor said he doesn’t have any special strategies for the competition other than doing what he does during a normal day at work.

“You get a chance to see what’s involved with the whole process,” Balthazor said. “It sets us apart from other steakhouses.”

Smith said West Bend was chosen as round one because it had a fantastic event at the Kettle Moraine Ice Center two years ago.

“We take all the steaks and offer a fundraiser lunch,” Smith said.

Craig Petersen, general manager of the Kettle Moraine Ice Center, said the lunch costs $10, and includes a grilled steak, potatoes, corn and rolls. He said carryouts are available, if people would like to take their meal back to work.

The proceeds will benefit the Washington County Youth Hockey Association. Petersen said the Kettle Moraine Ice Center is run by volunteers and families of the Youth Hockey Association.

“One hundred percent of the money goes back to the Youth Hockey Association,” Petersen said.

Petersen said the money will go into the general fund and could be used to buy a Zamboni or hockey pucks for the kids.

“I think they rely on donations,” Smith said. “We decided they should be the recipient.”

Smith encourages residents to come to the challenge, which promotes Texas Roadhouse’s steaks and celebrates the company’s meat cutters.

“I understand it’s a Thursday, but it’s a great event,” Petersen said. “It will support the Youth Hockey Association. There are more meat cutters this year. We are expecting more meat. We’re hoping for a great turnout. Any little bit helps.”

For more information about the event or the Youth Hockey Association, visit www.wcyha.org.