Lower South Island Butchers Sharpen Up For Competition
Butchers from across the lower South Island sharpened their knives and cut their way through a two-hour competition in the regional stages of the 2019 Alto Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year.
It was a close call, but after a fierce competition Greg Egerton from Countdown Dunedin Central placed first in the Alto Butcher of the Year category and Tom Frood from New World Gardens, Dunedin claimed first spot in the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year category.
This was the third regional competition in a national series to find New Zealand’s top butchers to compete in a Grand Final showdown in August, culminating in a glitzy dinner – a highlight of the industry’s year. The lower South Island competition involved the butchers breaking down a size 16 chicken, a boneless beef rump and a full pork loin into a display of value-added products.
Greg Egerton is no stranger to the competitive world of butchery having previously represented New Zealand on the world stage with New Zealand’s butchery team.
“I feel ecstatic about winning, it’s really good. I was really looking forward to competing today, and it was fantastic to win. I’ve been a butcher for 27 years, but I’ve always wanted to compete in Butcher of the Year and now that the age restriction has been lifted, it has been great that I am now able to enter,” said Egerton
“My bosses have always been great, allowing me to be creative with my work and I think that has helped me today. With the final being all mystery cuts, I can’t really focus on anything in particular, just keep doing what I’m doing and enjoying it while I am at it.”
Tom Frood, who will complete his apprenticeship in August, is a first time entrant to the competition and was delighted with his win and the chance to compete in Auckland at the Grand Final .
“I’m shocked but pretty happy. I’ve been doing timed runs and I just had one full two-hour slot to have a go at the whole run through. I really focused on keeping a clean and tidy workspace, hygiene and minimal waste. Looking ahead to the final, I know I need to keeping working hard. I’m going to focus on how I can utilise my waste and maybe look at some different products,” says Tom.
Greg and Tom will now continue on to the Grand Final, on Thursday 8 August in Auckland, where they will further showcase their cutting skills, creativity and knowledge of the trade against the best in the country.
Head Judge and Captain of New Zealand’s Butchery team, the Hellers Sharp Blacks, Corey Winder has been involved in the competition for 20 years now and says the skills needed to become a great butcher are ever-growing.
“It’s inspirational to see so many apprentices and butchers showing up at competition level. It not only increases their skill set and gives them the opportunity to network with their peers, but gives them the confidence to look to the future and the possibility of one day competing at an international level at the World Butchers’ Challenge,” says Corey.
“To have the motivation and drive to showcase their skills at this level means the New Zealand butchery industry is in good hands with plenty of candidates setting their sights on becoming a member of the New Zealand butchery team, the Heller’s Sharp Blacks, in the future.”
The competition is proudly sponsored by Alto, ANZCO Foods, Wilson Hellaby, Alliance, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Competenz, Dunninghams, Tegel and Hellers.