I just ate your brother – Beef Taste Off at the Ekka

The steak is minuscule but after you’ve eaten more than 40 of them, it doesn’t really matter.

I’m at the Beef Taste Off , the final phase of the hotly contested Paddock to Palate Competition run by the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland.

It’s a big deal to win this competition and this year’s 69 entries, 40 per cent up on last year, proving interest is high.

Lead by Chief Judge Russell Smith, two panels of judges are steadily eating their way through a mountain of meat looking at appearance, juiciness, tenderness, flavour and overall likeability.

Sorry about your brother but he tasted great!
Judging underway at the Ekka, 2013

It’s all about the genetics today as extreme care has been given to ensuring a level playing field.  The steers have all been in a feed lot for 100 days and fed the same food and the butchering and cooking is all done to strict guidelines. The steaks are all cut to 20 mm thickness and cooked medium rare.

Some of the judges - Leeanne Gangemi, Michael James, Elaine Millar and Michael Dalton

Sitting around the tables are a seasoned group of diners including Josh Lopez from QGA and GOMA; Ben Williamson, Gerard’s Bistro; James Starr, James Connoisseur Meats; Kenmore; Michael James, Carina North Quality Meats, Elaine Millar; Sally Lynch, Tastetrekker, Leeanne Gangemi, Ballandean Wines; Michael Dalton, Fino Foods, and Michael Conrad.

According to the judges it’s amazing the subtle differences that emerge in the meats.  Some have really short fibres and are crumbly while others are definitely more juicy and tender.

I carefully bite into my small piece of steak and focus on the flavour.  First thing is I just want to add some salt but the other judges assure me this need soon passes and you can then focus more easily on the actual meat flavour.

Carefully cut, the steak awaits cooking.

It's all about precision timing

And careful watching!

Resting time is carefully monitored so it's the same for each steak
Then is it cut into small segments like the top photo. Mouth watering yet?

What would these judges put with such prime steak given half a chance?  Leanne Gangemi has a fine Ballandean Cab Sav in mind, Michael Dalton wants to spread some Newman’s horse radish or hot mustard from South Australia on his, Elaine Millar says roasted garlic squeezed over the steak would be perfect but Michael James wins my vote with mushrooms, and lots of them.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post.