September 16, 2019



Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is thrilled to announce the appointment of Walter M. Apfelbaum as executive butcher at Council Oak Steaks & Seafood at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.  In his latest role, he will also oversee butchering for the property’s other contemporary and fine dining establishments.

Apfelbaum, a renowned butcher has been in the meat industry for over thirty years.  Born in Asbury Park, New Jersey and raised in a German household, he began learning the tricks of the trade at his father’s best friend’s butcher shop at the ripe age of twelve, where he became truly mesmerized by the craft.  His pure talent and knack for cutting was so visible that he was introduced and soon hired by the most notable butchers in the tri-state area for seasonal work.   After high school graduation, Apfelbaum enrolled in a vocational school for culinary arts and became a butcher’s apprentice at Ocean Place Hilton Resort & Spa located in Long Branch, New Jersey.  

Apfelbaum’s increased passion for the culinary arts led him to attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.  Following graduation, he was recruited by Whole Foods to participate in their butcher training program, where he was mentored by the lead butcher for Whole Foods tri-state locations.   This invaluable experience eventually led him to travel abroad for several years throughout Europe visiting various regions from Denmark to Southern Italy to continue mastering his butchering skills, while also learning about the seafood trade.  Upon his return to the States, Apfelbaum worked at various butcheries and world-renowned steakhouses located within the tri-state area including Peter Luger’s, Delmonico’s, Gallaghers, and Keens; which allowed him to continue honing his skills with dry aging high end meats from Kosher to USDA Prime to Wagyu from Japan. 

In 2009, he relocated to Tampa, Florida and joined the butcher team at Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.  Three years later, the Seminole Tribe of Florida team offered him the opportunity to transfer to Seminole Casino Coconut Creek to open NYY Steak.  Additionally, he was asked to join the opening team for NYY Steak in Midtown Manhattan.

In 2017, Apfelbaum’s career path led him to Detroit, Michigan, where he brought his craft and knowledge of big city steakhouses to launch Prime + Proper, an award-winning steakhouse.  As of this summer, he has rejoined the team as executive butcher for all of the eateries within Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.  Apfelbaum’s day-to-day responsibilities include managing The Butcher Shop at Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, ensuring all cuts of meat are ordered and upheld to the highest standard of quality, educating front-of-house and back-of-the-house staff, and working with guests on the dining room floor of Council Oak to elevate their experience

About Council Oak Steaks & Seafood 

After its 2007 opening inside Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood quickly became Tampa’s number one destination for prime steaks, fresh seafood and an award-winning wine list served in a contemporary upscale atmosphere. It’s considered fine dining at its best. All steaks are a minimum of 28 day dry-aged while the lamb is a minimum of 14 day dry-aged, and all cut right in the restaurant’s very own on-site butcher shop. The fresh fish is line-caught in Florida and the Alaskan king crab legs are right from the Bering Sea. Custom saltwater tanks also keep the live Maine lobsters fresh.  The namesake for Council Oak Steaks & Seafood comes from an actual tree located on the Seminole Tribe of Florida (STOF) reservation in Hollywood (Fla.) where ceremonial and official STOF business is conducted. 

About Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is one of the largest and most successful casinos in the world offering award-winning gaming, hospitality and entertainment. The casino features more than 4,000 of the hottest slot machines, 138 table games and a state-of-the-art Poker Room featuring 46 tables. Additionally, the property offers a smoke-free Mezzanine Level Casino. The hotel is AAA Four Diamond rated and the property proudly offers seven award-winning restaurants, including the upscale dining venues Council Oak Steaks & Seafood and The Rez Grill. Renovations and expansions set to debut in the fall of 2019 include a new hotel tower with over 500 rooms, three ultra-lavish pools and expansive gaming space. The property will also unveil a new Rock Spa® & Salon, meeting space, entertainment venue, arrival experience as well as new food and beverage options. The resort is located off I-4 at North Orient Road and Hillsborough Avenue, about 10 minutes east of downtown Tampa. For more information, please call 866-502-PLAY or visit us online and via Facebook, TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

About Hard Rock International  

With venues in 74 countries including 186 cafes, 241 Rock Shops®, 29 hotels and 12 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s most valuable collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise available in global Rock Shops and online at https://shop.hardrock.com. HRI owns the global trademark for all Hard Rock brands including Hard Rock Live performance venues. The company owns, operates and franchises Cafes in iconic cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Dubai. HRI also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel/casino properties worldwide. Destinations include the company’s two most successful Hotel and Casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood, FL., both owned and operated by HRI parent entity The Seminole Tribe of Florida. Another exciting Hotel & Casino location includes Atlantic City. Hard Rock Hotels are located in vibrant city and resort destinations such as Bali, Cancun, Daytona Beach, Desaru Coast, Ibiza, London, Los Cabos, Orlando and Shenzhen. Upcoming new Hard Rock Cafe locations include Kathmandu, Nepal, Kyoto, Japan, Asuncion, Paraguay, Puerto Madero, Argentina and Chandigarh, India. New Hard Rock Hotel, Casino or Hotel & Casino projects include Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest, Dublin, Madrid, Maldives, New York City, Ottawa, Sacramento, Dalian and Haikou in China. In 2018, Hard Rock International was recognized as a Forbes Magazine Top Employer for Women and Land Operator of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards. In 2019, Hard Rock International was honored as one of Forbes Magazine’s America’s Best Large Employers and Forbes Magazine’s Top Employer for Women. For more information on Hard Rock International visit  www.hardrock.com.