Whether you’re celebrating a job well done or spending time with friends, you can’t argue with a delicious steak that meets every ounce of expectation. Grilling your own at home is nice, but when has it ever compared to the flavor and tenderness found at a high-end steakhouse? Rarely. That’s because good steakhouses use elite cuts of beef and industrial tools to broil and sear them to perfection. Thrown in the right sides, the right atmosphere, the right drinks, and you’ve got yourself a classic steakhouse experience.

People often wonder, though. How do those prime cuts of beef get from the butcher to the table? What does the transportation process involve, and is the beef really that fresh?

Since the product served by great steakhouses is fresh rather than frozen, the transportation from the butcher to restaurant has very strict procedures. First the beef is placed in packages, boxes and crates and loaded onto a refrigerated truck. That’s how the product is delivered to the restaurant, but it’s not so simple. While the meat is being chilled, ventilation must be adequate in order to prevent condensation from gathering on the surface of the meat. Once the meat is checked and approved for transportation, it’s largely left undisturbed until it reaches the destination where it will be delivered in the hands of expert steakhouse chefs.

After the beef arrives at the steakhouse, chefs often age the meat (depending on the cut) in a controlled setting for days or even weeks. Aging beef at home is difficult since there is risk for food poisoning and spoilage if conditions are not perfect. This aging process, along with simple and time-tested techniques for preparation, gives steak the tenderness and flavor that is so difficult to reproduce on the grill at home.

At a glance, it may seem like steak goes through quite a long process before it ends up in front of you on the plate. But being even the slightest bit familiar with this process makes every bite of steak a little more valuable and that much more scrumptious. Every steakhouse chef takes pride in being able to prepare each steak with perfection and quality.

So really, there are two important elements to the process. First, the steakhouse contacts suppliers and orders the finest cuts of beef to offer their customers. These are often the highest grades, such as Kobe and USDA Prime. Most of this product is not sold to general public, but directly to steakhouses and hotels. Once the order is in, the beef is meticulously packed, transported, delivered and aged before it finally hits the broiler and comes down on your plate. Only a really skilled chef, using all of the best tools in the kitchen, can really bring out the highest potential in the finest quality cuts of beef.

When was your last steak dinner — and did it satisfy or disappoint? Real steakhouses consider it their priority and pleasure to provide you with only the finest cuts of meat to leave you totally happy — and dreaming about that steak for days to come.