Fresno State ag students win national award for Junmai Skirt Steak

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Fresno State ag students win national award for Junmai Skirt Steak

Animal science students at California State University, Fresno won a national award for its Junmai Skirt Steak, a sake-infused beef steak, in competition at the National Meat Association conference in Las Vegas.

The product was developed by a team of seven students. Some are enrolled in Animal Science 172, which focuses on meat product development, and some work at the university meat laboratory, under the direction of Dr. John Henson, a professor in the Animal Science Department of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

The Fresno State students competed against teams from Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Cal Poly, UC-Davis, Oklahoma State, BYU and Missouri. This was the first time that the university competition has been separated from industry competition.

Each school’s product was judged in a blind tasting Feb. 21 by the National Meat Association members and exhibitors at the conference. The products were cooked by hotel chefs to ensure consistency.

Henson said “junmai” refers to the kind of sake the students used.

“It is a very high quality type of sake. Junmai means ‘pure rice’ indicating the quality of the sake,” he said. “The product is designed to be grilled and used as a main dish or for something like fajitas.”

He said the event was a great opportunity for his students to interact with the leaders in the meats industry and show off their talents in a national forum.

“It gave the students the opportunity to be creative and use their scientific training and experience to produce a product that the industry can use in its facilities,” Henson said. “I am extremely proud and pleased that their dedication and hard work were rewarded.”

Fresno State’s product development team members are Chad Souza of Hanford, Randy Long of Modesto, Anthony Rossi of Bakersfield, Joe Bullard of San Diego, Krystle Ward of Diamond Springs, April Fanning of Salinas and Monique Waterman of Fresno.

The students were awarded a plaque and $400 for the champion product.

Henson said Fresno State’s Junmai Skirt Steak soon will be available in the Fresno State Farm Market with other products from the university’s 1,100-acre farm, where students get hands-on training.

For more information, contact Henson at