This doesn’t happen every day.
It is not every day that 8 of America’s top steak purveyors prepare a cut for your review at a single dinner while Chef Marc Forgione — of American Cut steakhouse fame — presides over the proceedings, making sure every cut is cooked to equal perfection.
But it happened, and we went.
“You get to act like a chef tonight,” Forgione told the crowd, adding, “I don’t want to see any fights by the way. Please.”
The event was called the ‘Great Steak Debate.’ Men’s lifestyle site InsideHook put the whole thing on for its readers (and other steak addicts), and it all went down on a snowy Sunday at the NYC American Cut. There were six professional judges too.
So here’s who competed:
- Bunn Gourmet of Springfield, IL
- Omaha Steaks of Omaha, NE
- Debragga of NYC, NY
- Kansas City Steaks of Omaha, NE
- Blecampo of San Francisco, CA
- Crystal River Meats of Carbondale, CO
- Chicago Steak Company, Chicago IL
- Mainstreet Meats of Farmingdale, NY
All of these steaks were prepared the same way — simply. Butter, salt and pepper. That’s it.
Because as you probably understand, that the flavour of a steak — it’s destiny, if you will — is decided far before it gets to the grill. All of the participating purveyors have their own way of raising cattle and ageing the steak. Five of the steaks were dry aged, three were wet aged. This all influences the flavour of the steak.
The dinner worked like this: Each steak was sliced and sent unmarked to tables of hungry (and maybe slightly tipsy post cocktail hour) diners. Mashed potatoes and creamed spinach served as sides.
Diners were also provided with stampers to mark off their favourite steaks, and a pen and notebook to take notes. This was a serious event.
The steaks were taken out like this:
Now here’s the thing. The winner of the people’s choice award was kind of apparent early on. From first bite it was clear that steak A (whatever that was) was an unforgettable cut. It became the talk of the party.
That said, ultimately the judges and the people did not agree on which steak reigned supreme. While the people chose Belcampo (yup, that was A), the judges chose Chicago Steak Company.
A little more about these two purveyors: Belcampo raises its free-range cattle on 20,000 acres, then dry ages the meat for 28 days. They have five locations in California where you can dine if you’re looking to eat something really fresh.
The Chicago Steak Company ages steaks for 4-6 weeks and boats a number of cuts chosen by former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka himself.
So with Ditka tangentially involved you imagine the competition was quite fierce.
And yet no one fought.