Meat-cutting contest draws 15 to Cool Sports

Professional meat cutters from the region’s Texas Roadhouse restaurants displayed their carving skills in Farragut last week.

Fifteen meat cutters from Texas Roadhouse’s House Market, which operates 10 restaurants in the region, lined up to compete in a regional contest in Cool Sports Home of the Icearium Tuesday, Sept. 12.

James Bailey of Knoxville took home first-place honors and Brennan Ponder of Chattanooga earned second place.

Both advance to compete in the National Meat Cutting Challenge March 6 and March 7, 2018, in Orlando, Florida. It will include 545 restaurants nationwide. Top finisher in that competition will receive $20,000.

“[The regional meat cutters] are from all over East Tennessee,” said Tom Beem, product coach for Houser Market, which is owned by Texas Roadhouse.

Beem said Texas Roadhouse has held the regional competition at Cool Sports for the past three years.

“My son was involved with the indoor soccer at Cool Sports for many years, so I was aware of the ice skating rink,” he said. “When we cut meat in our stores we are in a walk-in cooler that is maintained at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. When we have that many people cutting at one time, we need a large area that is cold so [the competitors are] close to the rink, [and holding the event at Cool Sports] just works well.”

Beem said contestants were judged on best yield of three cuts: sirloin, filet and rib eye.

“[The winner of] each muscle [cut] got $100 for the best yield,” he said.

Following the national competition, Texas Roadhouse will hold a fundraiser to benefit Give Kids The World, during which the company will grill the hand-cut steaks prepared during the competition.

For more information about the fundraiser, e-mail to