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The California Cut: Unveiling the Real Reason Tri-Tip Steak Became an Icon

The real reason tri-tip steak is associated with California

Tri-tip steak, also known as the California cut, has become synonymous with the beautiful state of California. This flavorful and tender cut of meat has a fascinating history dating back to the 1950s when it became popular in the region. Let’s explore the real reason why tri-tip steak is so closely associated with California.

The Rise of the California Cut

In the 1950s, a butcher and meat manager named Bob Schultz, who worked at a local Safeway in California, recognized the potential of the tri-tip steak. This triangular cut, derived from the underside of the beef sirloin, offered a delicious level of marbling that made it ideal for grilling and roasting. Tri-tip steak was also more affordable than premium cuts like rib-eye.
Initially, butchers struggled to figure out how to properly utilize tri-tip steak. It was considered a complex part of the cow and was often ground up for hamburger meat or sold as pot roast. But Schultz saw its potential and decided to showcase it differently. By highlighting the unique qualities of tri-tip and presenting it as a stand-alone steak, he gave it the recognition it deserved.

Overcoming challenges

One of the challenges facing tri-tip steak in the 1950s was its perceived lack of marketability. Butchers felt that it took up too much display case space and that they could only offer limited quantities to customers. As a result, tri-tip was relegated to the status of burger meat or stew meat. But Schultz’s innovative approach changed the game and put tri-tip steak on the map.
By marketing tri-tip steak as the California cut or Santa Maria steak, its popularity skyrocketed. The unique flavor profile and tenderness of properly cooked tri-tip steak made it a hit with Californians and visitors alike. It became a staple of backyard barbecues, family gatherings and local restaurants, further cementing its association with California’s culinary culture.

Cooking Tri-Tip Steak

To truly enjoy the deliciousness of tri-tip steak, it’s important to know how to cook it properly. Tri-tip can benefit from a variety of cooking methods, such as grilling, broiling or pan-searing. Marinating the steak for a few hours prior to cooking can enhance its flavor profile and tenderness. When cooked to perfection, tri-tip steak offers a buttery, beefy flavor that is incredibly satisfying to chew.
Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a novice in the kitchen, tri-tip steak is a versatile cut that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. From classic steak dinners to sandwiches and tacos, its rich flavor and tenderness make it a favorite among meat lovers.

Bottom line

Tri-tip steak’s association with California stems from its rise to fame in the 1950s, thanks to the efforts of Bob Schultz and his recognition of its potential. Tri-tip steak’s unique qualities, affordability and delicious flavor have made it a beloved part of California’s culinary heritage. So the next time you fire up the grill or visit a California steakhouse, don’t forget to enjoy the delicious flavors of the iconic tri-tip steak.


What is tri-tip steak?

Tri-tip steak is a triangular cut of meat from the underside of the beef sirloin. It is known for its marbling, tenderness and delicious flavor.

Why is Tri-Tip Steak associated with California?

Tri-tip steak became associated with California because of its rise in popularity in the 1950s. Butcher Bob Schultz recognized its potential and marketed it as the California cut, making it a staple of the state’s culinary culture.

How did tri-tip steak become known in California?

Tri-tip steak faced initial challenges because butchers were unsure how to use it. However, Bob Schultz’s innovative approach of presenting it as a stand-alone steak and highlighting its unique qualities helped drive its recognition and popularity in California.

What contributed to the marketability of tri-tip steak in California?

Tri-tip steak’s affordability, delicious flavor, and versatility in cooking methods contributed to its marketability in California. It became a popular choice for backyard barbecues, family gatherings, and local restaurants.

How should tri-tip steak be cooked?

Tri-tip steak can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, broiling or pan-searing. Marinating the steak before cooking will enhance its flavor. When cooked properly, tri-tip steak offers a buttery, beefy flavor that is incredibly tender to the bite.

Can tri-tip steak be used in dishes other than steak dinners?

Yes, Tri-Tip Steak is a versatile cut that can be used in a variety of dishes. It can be sliced and used in sandwiches, tacos, stir-fries and more. Its rich flavor and tenderness make it a favorite among meat lovers in a variety of culinary creations.

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