Rangiora Women Making The Cut At Butchery Competition

Samantha Weller__.JPEG

Butchers from across the upper 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 an all-women showdown and after a close competition Samantha Weller from New World Rangiora placed first in the Alto Butcher of the Year category and Maria De Lourdes Pio from PAK’nSave Rangiora claimed first spot in the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year category.

This was the fourth and final 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 upper 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.

Samantha Weller is a familiar face on the butchery competition circuit, having won the ANZCO Butcher Apprentice of the Year title in 2017 before going on to be a world beater, taking the World Champion Butcher Apprentice title at the World Butchers’ Challenge in Belfast last March.  

“I’m pretty stoked to win and get the chance to go up to the Grand Final in Auckland. I concentrated on the finer details, which I think helped me win today. I need to do more decorating on my display and keep my trimming down for the final,” said Samantha.

Maria De Lourdes Pio’s success in the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice category is even more remarkable given she started her apprenticeship just six months ago.

“Winning is a little overwhelming, I just feel really amazing and happy that I could do this. I’ve received some really good feedback from head judge, Corey Winder about practising more on boning to give me more speed, also my cleanliness I need to improve, but I am really looking forward to the Grand Final,” says Maria.

Samantha and Maria 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 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 Hellers 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.