National foodservice Beef Backer Award winners announced

Feb 19, 2010
by WLJ

The Beef Checkoff Program announced the 2009 National Beef Backer Award winners in foodservice at the Annual Cattle Industry Conference in San Antonio, TX. The Beef Backer Awards recognize independent and chain restaurants that set the highest standards in menuing and marketing beef. This year’s national winners included Uncle Ed’s Steakhouse (Grand Island, NE) in the “Independent Restaurant” category, Texas Roadhouse (Louisville, KY) in the “Chain Restaurant” category, and Barclay Prime (Philadelphia, PA) as the “Innovator of the Year.”

“According to industry reports, more than 130 million individuals patronized America’s restaurants, daily, in 2009. That’s one-third of the population. Daily. There is no way to overstate the influence of foodservice professionals. Their culinary skills ignite consumer passion for our product, and their creativity keeps beef at the forefront of eating trends,” notes California cattleman Bill Jackson, chairman of the Joint Foodservice Committee. “Today, we are pleased to honor three restaurants for their ongoing commitment to serve beef at its best—every meal, every day.”

Owners Ed and Anita Sabatka were thrilled to accept the National Beef Backer Award for the “Independent Restaurant” category on behalf of their restaurant, Uncle Ed’s Steakhouse. “Our entire menu is built on a foundation of layered flavors and balanced seasonings. Dedication to beef aging and attention to preparation make our steaks truly exceptional. Our high standards of quality ensure a mouthwatering, exciting and satisfying beef experi ence,” says Ed Sabatka, who is also the chef at Uncle Ed’s.

Uncle Ed’s delivers on its promise to give its guests expertly-cooked, delicious steaks. “The primary objective of beef promotions in our restaurant is to allow our guests to be exposed to and experience special steak presentations normally reserved for ‘finer’ restaurants,” Sabatka explains.

Their patrons appreciate the special treatment and reward Uncle Ed’s with excellent results—and bigger sales. One such promotion led to a 51 percent increase in total steak sales over the same time period from the previous year. “There’s no doubt that beef is king on our menu and is the key sales driver.”

Texas Roadhouse was delighted to receive the “Chain Restaurant” National Beef Backer Award. Texas Roadhouse opened its doors in 1993. In just 16 years, the company has grown to more than 330 locations in 46 states. G.J. Hart, president and CEO, says, “Texas Roadhouse prides itself on our high-quality beef and expert preparation. We use 100 percent U.S. beef, and all steaks are cut in-house daily. This commitment to quality is the backbone of our company and is what our guests have come to expect.”

Texas Roadhouse makes a special effort to honor and incent their beloved butchers. “We are so proud of our meat cutters and admire their dedication to our standards of excellence. In fact, we hold an annual Texas Roadhouse Meat Cutting Challenge—there are several rounds of competition, and one winner takes home a grand prize of $20,000 and the title of Meat Cutter of the Year,” Hart explains.

Texas Roadhouse is on a mission to share its passion for well-prepared—and wellcut—beef. To better educate consumers and to promote beef, Texas Roadhouse has partnered with the Kentucky State Beef Council for the past two years to present the Texas Roadhouse Roadshow at the Kentucky State Fair on the Kentucky Beef Producers’ Gourmet Garden Stage. Over 600,000 fairgoers have the opportunity to learn how to cut their own steaks from several of Texas Roadhouse’s talented meat cutters—and of course, enjoy the beef!

Barclay Prime took home the “Innovator of the Year” title. Executive chef James LoCascio says, “Barclay Prime is honored to be recognized as the Beef Backer ‘Innovator of the Year’ and I am proud to accept this award on behalf of the entire staff.” LoCascio attributes Barclay Prime’s success to its incredible attention to detail. “The most noteworthy thing about Barclay Prime isn’t just the food, and it isn’t just the service—it’s the quality of the ingredients.”

All of Barclay Prime’s beef goes through a meticulous quality control process, sometimes lasting up to two months, before it is ever served to a guest. “We conduct regular blind taste tests, and are constantly doing cuttings and tastings. This way, we can ensure that the beef on the menu is always the best,” says Lo- Cascio.

Barclay Prime makes a special effort to market the beef they serve to their patrons on a personal level.

“When a guest orders one of our steaks, we rely on our excellent wait staff to talk about the relationship they have with the purveyor, or about what farm the beef is from; they lend a personal touch to the meal by telling the whole beef story,” LoCascio explains.

Restaurant operators interested in entering the 2010 Beef Backer contest should contact their state beef council. — WLJ