A cut above?

Willeck, lean and mean from cutting off the gristle, has moved on to the semifinals of a national meat-cutting challenge presented by A1.

The competition is Feb. 25 at the Ice Factory in Kissimmee, Fla., and Willeck will be going up against 87 other professional meat cutters from around the nation. The prize is the title Meat Cutter of the Year, and a purse of $20,000.

According to a statement, Willeck is responsible for hand-cutting every steak served at Duluth’s Texas Roadhouse. In an average year, he will cut about $1 million worth of meat, working in frigid conditions. Literally. He works in a 35-degree walk-in refrigerator.

For the competition, Willeck and other participants will receive 30 to 40 pounds of beef. The contestants will speed-cut two sirloins, one filet and one ribeye. The cutters are judged on quality, yield and speed.

The competition is part of a program created by the Texas Roadhouse chain.

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