Inquirer photographer goes eye-to-ribeye with judges

Every Monday, we present a gallery of pictures of the week that just passed, taken by our staff photojournalists — and tell you the story behind one of them. This week staff photographer Tim Tai talks about the collegiate world of competitive meat judging

Members of Texas Tech University's meat judging team practice assessing pork carcasses at Penn State University's meats lab in State College, preparing for a meat judging competition in Wyalusing the following day.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Members of Texas Tech University's meat judging team practice assessing pork carcasses at Penn State University's meats lab in State College, preparing for a meat judging competition in Wyalusing the following day.

Combining just two of his many mad skills – food and sports - Inquirer staff photographer Tim Tai recently entered the world of competitive meat judging, photographing a warm-up at Penn State University for the Eastern National Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest.

“I’ve covered county/state fair livestock competitions, but I hadn’t photographed meat judging before,” he said. He has covered other unusual contests: burrito-eating, catfish noodling, and mouse racing, and a Mr. Mature pageant.

Tai comes from Missouri, and has always loved doing stories about agriculture. "People really don’t know enough about it -- especially people who live in very urban areas.”

To many the meat judging photos might seem funny, weird, or even gross. But it has a purpose, he said. “When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that the people who hope to enter the meat industry want to get practice and experience somehow.” Meat judging, like agricultural fairs, prepares students for careers in the industry, or as educators, butchers and inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It was just one of many stories by Inquirer reporter Jason Nark that Tai has teamed up with, which he loves, “in part because he’s a great colleague to work with and in part because he’s always finding really fun and visually interesting stories.”

Tai added, “one of the best parts of my job is getting to explore beyond just the Philadelphia region.”

» SEE MORE: Last week’s staff photo gallery and the staff photography page

Loading...