Leigh Hart Out In The Cold Following Hellers Sharp Blacks Snub

Comedian and radio broadcaster Leigh Hart turned his hand to butchery in a feeble attempt to make the Kiwi butchery team, the Sharp Blacks who have now partnered with Hellers as they prepare for the World Butchers’ Challenge – the Olympics of butchery – due to take place next October in Sacramento, California.

Brydon Heller – Marketing Manager for Hellers and Team Manager for the Hellers Sharp Blacks – was quick to point out that this was a dream fit for the small goods producer to partner with the butchery team.

“Hellers are New Zealand’s butcher, so for us it was an easy decision to support the team. We want to showcase the industry and New Zealand has some of the finest butchers in the world – our record in the World Butchers’ Challenge is testament to that. So, it was obvious decision for us to support the team and get behind their journey to Sacramento, 2020” Brydon Heller commented.

He continued: “Within the Hellers Sharp Blacks we have decades of collective experience and that’s a real asset to Hellers. We plan to work with the team to showcase our products as well as work with them on developing some new product ranges.”

As the face of Hellers, Hart presumed he would be a shoo-in for a spot on the team but was left disappointed following a calamitous try-out which left selectors scratching their heads.

“I’ve been part of the Hellers team for years, so when they partnered with the Sharp Blacks it was the opportunity of a lifetime to get on the world stage, pull on the black jersey and represent my country. All those minutes spent YouTubeing what to do, all the mental preparation and visualisation has been wasted. I even came home from the pub early last night for this. Gutted doesn’t come close,” said Hart.

Corey Winder, captain of the Hellers Sharp Blacks since their inception in 2011, oversaw Hart’s trial and was less than complimentary about the 48-year-old’s effort.

Winder noted: “Leigh’s delusional, at one point he was using the blunt side of the knife to cut a pork loin and then put a knife steel up a chicken to make it easier to ‘carve’ as he termed it. ‘Don’t give up the day job’ was the feedback I gave him.”

The World Butchers’ Challenge, a biennial event which started out as a Trans-Tasman Test Match in 2011, will head to the iconic Golden 1 Centre in the Californian capital city of Sacramento.

Once there, the Hellers Sharp Blacks along with fifteen other nations will be tasked with slicing up a side of beef (half a carcass), a side of pork (half a carcass), a whole lamb and five chickens to produce a themed display of value-added products in the panic-inducing time of just three hours and fifteen minutes.

A global panel of judges will then score each team based on strict criteria that includes; knife skills, hygiene, safety, consistency, time management, cookability & saleability as well as style, visual impact, teamwork and innovation of the display.

As the clock counts down to the competition, the expectation will undoubtedly grow for the butchers that made the team. Brydon Heller did have some words of wisdom to ensure Hart secures his seat on the plane to Sacramento. 

“Once we land, it’s a pressure cooker situation. You’re eyeballing your opponents and everyone is there to win. Sometimes that can be a little daunting and some light humour can go a long way to settling the nerves. One thing I’ve learnt about Leigh is he can make people laugh, perhaps he could come along as our team mascot to keep the spirits up.”

Background Information:

The Hellers Sharp Blacks squad is made up of the following members;

  • Corey Winder (Team Captain, Product Developer) – Elite Meats Bush Inn, Christchurch

  • Jeremy Garth (Product Developer) – New World Ferry Road, Christchurch

  • David Timbs (Product Developer) – Peter Timbs Meats, Christchurch

  • Riki Kerekere (Breaking & Boning) – Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland

  • Reuben Sharples (Breaking & Boning) – Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland

  • James Smith (Garnishing & Display) – PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe, Auckland

  • Luka Young (reserve) – New World Eastridge, Auckland

Team Bios:

Corey Winder (Elite Meats Bush Inn, Christchurch) – Team Captain, Product Developer

A legend of the New Zealand retail meat scene, Corey is often described as the Richie McCaw of butchery. Captaining the Hellers Sharp Blacks since their inception in 2011, Corey is the glue that holds the team together. The ultimate team player, he puts in the hours of practice and preparation required taking him away from his own business and family. With three victories and a second place on his record, the Hellers Sharp Blacks will be in excellent hands come October 2020.

Jeremy Garth (New World Ferry Road, Christchurch) – Product Developer

Hailing from Christchurch, Jeremy is another familiar face from industry competitions, having won the Alto Young Butcher regional competitions, Jeremy has travelled to the Grand Final in Auckland three times, and was even runner up in the national competition in 2014.

Jeremy was also a member of the South Island team in the North vs South challenge in both 2014 and 2015. Working with Captain Corey Winder in the past, Jeremy has been able to learn from the best and was part of the Hellers Sharp Blacks team that finished second in Belfast in March 2018.

Riki Kerekere (Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland) – Breaking & Boning

Riki is the heart and soul of Countdown’s central processing plant in Otahuhu, overseeing a 450-strong team that supply every Countdown Store in the North Island with meat products seven days a week. A poacher turned gamekeeper, Riki was the New Zealand judge at the 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge in Belfast, but made the decision to apply for the team following his success in the 2018 Alto Butcher of the Year competition in 2018, taking out the top title.

Reuben Sharples (Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland) – Breaking & Boning

Reuben is a stalwart of the butchery competition scene, having taken out the title of Alto Butcher of the Year in 2017 and competing in Butcher Wars at Meatstock. A media darling and housewives’ favourite, Reuben is the owner of the Aussie Butcher in New Lynn. His team have won numerous awards for their sausages and hams and Reuben will be bring a wealth of experience to the team.

David Timbs (Peter Timbs Meats, Christchurch) – Product Developer

David cut his teeth in the butchery world under the guidance and tutelage of his uncle, Peter Timbs himself. Fast-forward to the present and his role has reversed, overseeing all the training and practical skills taught to the company’s latest crop of apprentices. Having been a Hellers Sharp Black in the past, David will bring an essential understanding to the team.

James Smith (PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe, Auckland) – Garnishing and Display  

James may happen to be one of the younger members of the team but he’s managed to pack an incredible amount experience in to his eight years as a butcher. Now running the show in the PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe butchery department, James goes out of his way to further himself and develop his skill set, often seeking experience with other top butchers and chefs. A self-confessed foodie, it will be James’ flourish and panache that will put the finishing touches to the products before the face adjudication from the judges.

Luka Young (New World Eastridge, Auckland) - Reserve

Luka is no stranger to success at the World Butchers’ Challenge have being part of the Young Butchers of New Zealand Squad in Belfast, taking third spot in the World Champion Young Butcher Competition. Hailing from the New World Eastridge which has previous form for producing Hellers Sharp Blacks, Luka’s role will be invaluable. He will be turning up to all the practices and will need to be ready to step up at a moment’s notice should someone need to drop out.

Team Roles:

Breaking & Boning: working with the carcass, they break it down into the primal cuts which are then passed to the Product Developers. The Breaker & Boner is the engine room of the team and it’s vital they are speedy, yet accurate and efficient, with minimal waste.

Product Developer: the three team members in this role are responsible for taking the primal cuts from the Breaker & Boners and turning them into products you would expect to see in a retail meat display. 

Garnishing & Display: this is the creative and final end of the process. This team member is responsible for taking the value-added products and giving them the final dressing i.e. the X Factor.

Sharp Blacks’ sponsors: Hellers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc., New Zealand Pork, Active Refrigeration, Kiwi Labels, Multivac and Dunninghams.