Upper North Island butchers set the bar extremely high in the final regional of the Alto Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year competition, held in Auckland.
The incredible talent of Upper North Island butchers resulted in a three-way tie for the Butcher of the Year; Luka Young from New World Eastridge, Reuben Sharples from Aussie Butcher New Lynn and Riki Kerekere from Countdown Meat and Seafood drew for first place. Ben Nelson from Aussie Butcher New Lynn won the Butcher Apprentice category.
In just two hours, the butchers were asked to break down a size 20 chicken, a beef sirloin and a pork shoulder, turning the cuts into a display of value-added products.
All four winners will now continue on to the Grand Final, being held on August 31st 2017 in Auckland, where they will not only showcase their impressive cutting skills but also their creativity and knowledge of the trade, against the best in the country.
As with the other three finalists, Luka started in the trade as a first job out of school and has never looked back, he credits his passion for the job and experience in the competition to giving him an edge on the day.
“This is the fifth time I’ve been in this competition, I’m more focused and hard on myself each time. Every year the talent seems to get better and better, it forces everyone to lift their game,” says Luka.
Head judge Matt Grimes, who has been involved with the competition for over 10 years, knows just how competitive the competition can get.
“The 2017 competition has proved that butchers are more focused on cook-ability, saleability and attention to detail than ever before and as a result we’ve ended up with the first ever three-way tie – we couldn’t call it, the talent was neck and neck which is going to make for a very exciting Grand Final,” says Matt.
The competition is supported by Alto Packaging, Competenz, Wilson Hellaby, Alliance Group, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Dunninghams, Hellers, Kerry Ingredients, New Zealand Pork, and Tegel.
Source: Retail Meat NZ