A cut above the rest is what Wylie High School is shooting for this fall as a group of its FFA students learn the art of butchering ribeye rolls into perfectly cut steaks — and yes, the community can purchase them. Currently 20 FFA students are working to acquire skills in attempt to make Wylie’s first-ever Leadership Development Event (LDE) team of 10 to compete with a “food technology” focus instead of the wildlife or agriculture mechanical focus more commonly seen at the competitions, said FFA teacher Will Pettit.
Pettit, a product of the Wylie FFA program having graduated in 2016, said it’s more typical to see LDE teams focus on skill development topics such as radio broadcast, public relations, chapter conducting, FFA Creed speaking, and job interviewing.
Pettit said LDE teams are fall events that allow FFA to go beyond the “sows, cows, and plows” image that FFA often has due to its show season in the spring. He said the opportunity for the students to learn cutting steaks has presented them with “good challenges.”
“The students end up cutting about 12 steaks from each ribeye roll, which we purchase from the local restaurant The Shed,” said Pettit. “This allows for us to have top-choice, quality-grade, certified Angus beef that has already been USDA inspected and graded.”
Members of the community can purchase “practice” steaks as well as “bits for stir fry.” Pettit said the steaks are 14-16 oz. cuts about 1-1.25 inches thick and generally run $15-20 dollars each, but prices fluctuate with the beef industry.
“Steaks are available for purchase after we practice, which is basically weekly, but they go quickly,” said Pettit. “We have a waiting list.”
On Monday, Nov. 7 the FFA Department will host a LDE Showcase at the Wylie Performing Arts Center. Beginning at 6 p.m. community members will have the opportunity to see not only the steak-cutting LDE team but also various other LDE teams perform what they do when competing; competitions start at the end of October and run through December.
“There are 4 Ag teachers with multiple teams that will be performing,” said Pettit. “It’s a great opportunity to see what the students work so hard to learn because even parents don’t get to see their students compete.”
Pettit said the money from selling the steaks benefits the students directly by helping the Ag Department purchase class materials, trips, contests and any other expenses that arise. For more information or to purchase steaks, email email@example.com.
By Kristen Johnson
Photos courtesy of William Pettit