Consumers have given Hereford beef the eating quality tick of approval, voting it as the winner of the prestigious Norman’s Best- of the Breeds Trophy at Queensland’s most beef centric venue.
The competition has been hosted annually by Brisbane’s Norman Hotel since 2015 with Hereford announced as the winner in 2023 up against three other major breeds.
Held during Ekka in August, the competition involves consumers being served a kebab with four 40-gram pieces of rump steak portions of each breed to judge on flavour, tenderness and overall liking.
The hotel partners with JBS Foods Australia to isolate the breeds for this competition.
Norman Hotel Executive Chef Frank Correnti said Hereford would now feature as Norman’s Best of the Breeds Winner during November with a 400-gram rump taking centre stage in the meat cabinet and feature at a special lunch for guests from Herefords Australia.
“The consumers saw Hereford as a consistent product – there was not a huge margin across the board but at the end of the day the product stood up for itself in eating quality,” Mr Correnti said.
“This entrée kebab style with four pieces of rump steak is a great way for people to understand the different breeds behind their steak.”
The meat cabinet at the Norman regularly features on social media and is lauded as making any butcher blush with more than 16 cuts of steak on display.
“This covers all the major primals, while sausages are made on site, and the meat cabinet is arranged daily with fresh product – it is a wow factor with customers and a real talking point,” Mr Correnti said.
“We are about the beef mantra and really promoting beef to consumers.”
Billed as “Brisbane’s worst vegetarian restaurant”, the Norman serves around 2500-3500 beef meals per week, prepared by a team of 27 chefs.
An award-winning chef and beef tasting judge, Mr Correnti specialises in carcase to plate, regularly liaising with the hotel’s producer suppliers to ensure consistency and quality.
“At the end of the day consumers are wanting quality in a steak but some prefer a grass-fed product and others grainfed.”
He said although highly marbled steak was still popular, the average steak intake on the plate at the Norman of 400 grams resulted in consumers choosing beef with a lower marble score.
“The flavour profile of a high marbled product can be very rich… so to have a 400gram highly marbled rib eye fillet is quite indulgent. Consumers go for the lower marble score so they can have a bigger piece of steak and not feel overindulged,” he said.
“Tenderness is extremely important with 90 per cent of our products MSA graded. I’m big on ageing of meat to ensure the right level of tenderness and all of our product is pre-aged off-site for a minimum of four to six weeks for a rib fillet, and eight to 12 weeks for a rump before a knife goes through it.”
Mr Correnti said the menu was annually scrutinised for its beef brands, their eating quality and availability.
“We need to partner with producers with the ability to supply the Norman Hotel with the same product day in, day out for that year. We have a great relationship with JBS and are in constant talks with them weekly.
“When it comes to choosing the cattle, producer or brand, I work backwards from the plate size and determine who can supply a carcase to meet the criteria to put a 250 gram rib fillet on the plate without it looking too small.
“I don’t want the eye muscle area too big or 6kg plus cub rolls as I don’t want it looking like a pancake on a plate – the primal needs to be around 2.2-3.2kg to ensure a 250 gram steak will have a nice thickness to it.”
The Norman is home of the 1kg steak challenge, Australia’s biggest meat tray giveaway and Norman’s big lunch.
Mr Correnti is a proud advocate for the beef industry and conducts Mastersteak BBQ cooking classes at the hotel.
“Steak used to be an everyday item but is now a once-a-week product, so consumers are willing to pay the money for quality, service and experience.”
Mr Correnti said Australian beef quality was among the best in the world.
Herefords Australia chief executive officer Michael Crowley said the win in the battle of the Norman Best Breeds Trophy reaffirmed the superior eating quality of Hereford beef.
Mr Crowley said the average MSA Index outcomes for the breed is evidence of the eating quality performance of the breed from Queensland to Tasmania.
“Hereford producers are consistently ranked at the top end of MSA graded cattle nationally, reinforcing Hereford’s ability to deliver superior eating quality beef,” he said.
“Herefords Australia would like to thank the Norman Hotel and JBS for running this event and are proud to partner with them through the promotion.”