It’s the world’s best steak from a beast that spent part of its life grazing at Breeza – but don’t expect to get a sample any time soon.
Frank Albers, of Albers GMBH, and Jack’s Creek managing director Patrick Warmoll in London with the steak named as the best in the world.
Albers Food took out the inaugural World Steak Challenge in London this month, with a steak produced by the Warmoll family’s Jack’s Creek.
Jack’s Creek has its start in Breeza, where the cattle is still fattened up on its way to becoming prize-winning beef.
Jack’s Creek’s managing director, Gunnedah-born Patrick Warmoll, said while Gunnedah residents might just about smell the meat cooking on his parents’ barbie, they were unlikely to get a taste.
“Ninety per cent is exported and 10 per cent is for the domestic market,” Mr Warmoll said.
“It goes to Brisbane and Sydney.”
Twenty per cent of Jack’s Creek beef ends up in Saudi Arabia, closely followed by 18 per cent to Japan.
The best steak in the world: Wagyu from Jack’s Creek.
Mr Warmoll said the world-wide win, announced on October 15 in Hyde Park, London, was “pretty cool”.
“There were 78 different entries from 10 different countries,” he said.
“There were 11 gold medals and those went into the running for the grand champion – we won the grand champion.”
Meat experts and celebrity chefs including Keith Kendrick and Kevin Ashton lined up to judge the steaks.
Mr Warmoll, who was at the event, said the meat was judged both raw and cooked, using internationally agreed criteria.
“When it’s raw, our wagyu has a fine marbling cobweb through it, it looks very good,” he said.
“There’s a very even distribution of meat and fat and the meat colour is a nice pinkish colour.”
The meat was cooked to a core temperature of between 50-55 degrees Celsius before being allowed to rest for five minutes and then sampled by the judges.
When the meat reached the gold medal level, each steak was cooked on a barbecue before being taste-tested.
“It was a really polarising process,” Mr Warmoll said.
“But the general comment from the judges was ‘as soon as we ate it, we knew it was the winning steak’.”
Mr Warmoll said because it was the first time the challenge had been held, there were fairly loose requirements.
“It was just survival of the fittest,” he said.
“Japanese wagyu is considered to be top of the tree and Brazilian grass-fed beef is at the other end.
“I thought we were about in the middle. I wasn’t confident we would get a gold medal, but I was hopeful.”
He said the Albers Food entry had “smashed” the Japanese wagyu.
And Mr Warmoll said he was pretty happy the home-grown steak had also trounced American beef.
“Australia is traditionally a commodity exporter,” he said.
“We haven’t really done much about becoming a premium supplier of meat until the last 10 years.
“Now there are a lot of really good premium suppliers, not just us.
“People are starting to wake up that we are pretty consistent.”
The Warmoll’s association with the Breeza area dates back to the late 1940s when John Warmoll and his wife started JF Warmoll & Co.
The family bought a large cropping and grazing property at Breeza, with John’s sons David and Phillip joining the business in the 1970s.
The family bought a property at Willow Tree and bred black angus cattle. They started crossing the herd with Japanese wagyu in 1991.
In 2000, Jack’s Creek became one of the first Australian companies to breed, grow, feed, process and market wagyu beef.
Today, Mr Warmoll said the cattle are produced at Willow Tree before being moved to Breeza for supplementary feeding until they reach about 320kg. They are then moved to a feedlot in Warwick before going to an abattoir in Casino.
The World Steak Challenge website offers some tips about how to get the best out of your award-winning steak:
If you have bought a “premium, quality assured, animal welfare friendly, heritage breed of steak”, you can undo all that good work in minutes by the way you store and cook it.
Your prized steak won’t be the great eat you were hoping for.
Here are some top tips:
• If it is pre-packed, remove it from the packaging and place in the bottom of a fridge. Cover with food paper, rather than plastic wrap. If you are in the UK, ask your butcher for some “peach paper” and wrap your steak in this.
• Take it out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking (in hotter climates like Australia, experts suggest around 10-15 minutes).
• Brush the oil onto the meat, rather than put the meat into the oil.
• Don’t cook too many steaks at once in the pan as they will stew rather than fry.
• Once cooked – rare, medium or well done – allow the meat to rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to distribute evenly through the steak.
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