The American Meat Science Association’s Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) has always been a place for researchers and industry professionals to gather and discuss research and hot topics within the meat industry. In recent years, more and more student-centered events have been added to make it an event that students also look forward to attending year after year.

The very first event of this year’s RMC was the Processed Meats Competition. Eighty students competed, placing and answering questions about Sliced Bacon, Hot Dogs, Center-Cut Ham Slices, Coarse Ground Smoked Sausage, Smoked Bone-in Pork Chops and Summer Sausage. Retail Identification, Keep/Cull, and Defects were also parts of the competition.

This was the second year to have the Processed Meats Judging competition as part of RMC. Rachel Adams, youth programs coordinator for AMSA, explained that processed meats were chosen for the competition because it’s a large part of the industry, and one that sees less attention in judging competitions.

Students who have been on a meat judging team in the past competed on the expert level, while students who are new to meat judging competed as novices.

The Processed Meats Competition was sponsored by Food Safety Net Services and the Southwest Meat Association. Hormel Foods Corp., Kraft Heinz, and Tyson Foods Inc. donated product for the competition and UltraSource donated other contest resources.

The highlight of Saturday was the Iron Chef Competition. The morning began with 125 students from 20 universities learning proper smoking and grilling techniques from Homer Robertson, winner of multiple World Champion Chuck Wagon competitions. Then, students were broken into teams and given their secret ingredients – beef Coulotte and hominy.

Beef Coulotte is a boneless steak made by slicing the sirloin cap at a right angle to the grain. It is considered a lean cut of beef and is prepared similarly to a sirloin steak. Hominy, a food produced from dried corn kernels that have been treated with an alkali, are most commonly known as the product they form when ground – grits.

Teams were given an hour to come up with a plan for the dish they wanted to create, then two students from each team went to H-E-B to buy ingredients needed for their dishes. Teams spent the afternoon preparing their dishes and presenting the final product to a panel of judges. The judges were Nicholas Brown from Cargill, Ed Yancey from Tyson Foods, Rachel Gray from Tyson Foods, and Homer Robertson.

Each dish was scored on presentation and taste. Following judging, RMC attendees were invited to taste each dish and vote for the People’s Choice Award. Dishes presented to the judges ranged from kebobs to tacos to stews.

Sponsor of the 2017 Iron Chef Competition was Smithfield Foods Inc. Product donations for the event were provided by A.C. Legg, H-E-B, Stock Yards, Weber Grills, and UltraSource.

Also on Sunday, students of all classifications competed in ePoster research competitions. Each competing student prepared a poster and explanation of their research to present to a panel of judges. They were also given the opportunity to answer questions about the research from the judges. The undergraduate division of the research competition was sponsored by the AMSA Educational Foundation Ann Hollingsworth, Dale Huffman, and William Moody Mentor Recognition Funds. The Masters and PhD divisions of the research competition were sponsored by Tyson Foods.

All of the student competitions, plus the student mentor session, RMC career fair and student mixer make AMSA’s RMC a great place for students to network with industry professionals and other students.

Read more highlights from the RMC.