Best steak It's down to our grass

By Vomle Springford;

Some of the country's tastiest and most tender sirloin steaks are being produced in Wairarapa, according to the semi-finalists at the annual Steak of Origin challenge.

Peter McWilliam, Greg Crombie and Joe Fouhy all made the cut with popular Angus, German Gelbvieh and rare Pustertal steaks.

The winner of the best steak will take home the Grand Champion award of $5000 and a trophy.

Pahiatua semifinalist Joe Fouhy, who won the title in 2004 and 2005 - the only person to win it twice - said good marbling made good flavour and what the cattle ate made a difference.

"You will get animals that produce quality steak from how they are fed."

He credited his Angus steak being selected due to the stable diet of his cattle.

Masterton's Peter McWilliam has been entering the competition over the last six years and this year his Angus, Gelbvieh and Pustertal steaks got through to the semifinals.

Pustertal cattle are one of the rarest breeds in the world, with less than 500 purebred females left.

"The beef is renowned for its tenderness and it has a sweet flavour," he said.

Mr McWilliam said the mineral-rich limestone soil in the area makes a significant difference to the quality of the grass, which he feeds to his cattle.

The competition process involved an initial assessment of each steak at Carne Technologies in Cambridge.

Each steak is aged for three weeks before being tested for tenderness, pH, marbling and the percentage of the steak lost in the cooking process.

Kim Doran, communications manager at Beef + Lamb New Zealand, which runs the competition, said each steak is aged for three weeks for consistency.

"If they are all the same age then they're all on a level playing field."

The semi-finalists' steaks will be judged by a panel of chefs and food writers who will choose 20 steaks to go through to final judging at the Beef Expo in Feilding later this month.


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