The results are now in from the National Butchery Awards which took place today at the Due Drop Events Centre, in Auckland.
Brad Gillespie from New World Rototuna in Hamilton has won the prestigious Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year title and Rhys Tamanui from Waipawa Butchery in Hawkes Bay was crowned ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year. The Black Gloves – a team made up of butchers from Australia – claimed victory at the Pure South Master Butcher Teams’ Challenge.
Brad says he is beside himself with his win. “The talent was outstanding today and to take out the win is just amazing. I am always keen to do my business proud so to finally tick off winning the Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year is incredible.”
Finalists were chosen from four regional competitions held during September in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, involving over 40 competitors. The final six included wild card entries in each category and with knives sharpened and bandsaws humming, competitors put on a spectacular battle of the butchers while friends and family looked on.
The two-hour cutting test required competitors to put their technical and creative skills to the test and showcase their expertise in front of a team of eight judges. Both the Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year competitors and the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentices put their boning, trimming, slicing and dicing skills to the test as they broke down a size 20 chicken, a full pork loin, beef rump, a leg of lamb and a mystery cut of Canadian beef T-Bone into a display of value-added products.
In addition to this, the apprentices were also expected to complete a multiple-choice exam and an interview with the judges, as part of their road to glory.
The ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice category provides an invaluable opportunity for those just starting out in the industry.
First time entrant, Rhys Tamanui says it feels surreal and the win hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
“I went into the regional competition thinking I’d give it a go and see what happens, and surprisingly won that and now I’ve won the national title and couldn’t be happier.”
Head Judge Peter Martin who is the Butchery Training Advisor at Skills4Work in Auckland, says this year’s competition was the most skilful and close contest he has seen.
“Having judged the regionals back in September I saw a very high standard of work from all the entrants”, says Peter. “To take out the national title tonight competitors really needed to be exceptional, and that is exactly what we saw.
“Thanks must also be given to the industry for their support in making the competition happen which shines a light on the talented butchers we have here in New Zealand. It is also wonderful to see the support from whanau, friends and workplaces which goes a long way in getting the competitors to this level.”
At the other end of the spectrum was the Pure South Master Butcher Teams Challenge which saw five teams of three qualified master butchers showcase their finely tuned craft with two hours to break down a whole lamb and a beef hindquarter.
The teams’ challenge is a chance for the masters of the industry to throw around a bit of butcher banter and put their teamwork to the test, as they worked together to create the most elaborate display. The popularity for the teams’ challenge has spread across the Tasman, and this year there was an Australian contingency joining the Kiwi teams.
In a close competition, the Black Gloves from Australia, claimed victory with their polished display. Team Captain ,Craig Munro said “there’s always a bit of rivalry between Australia and New Zealand and it’s amazing to be welcomed to the competition and to come away with the win on the night is just fantastic.”
Alongside industry and peer recognition, the Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year and the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year will receive a coveted trophy and an all-expenses paid trip to the next World Butchers’ Challenge in 2024 with the opportunity to represent New Zealand in the ANZCO Foods Young Butchers of New Zealand team.
The winning Pure South Master Butcher team will receive the inaugural competition trophy plus $1200 for the team and a knife set each.
The competition is proudly sponsored by Pure South, Pact Packaging, ANZCO Foods, Dunninghams, Hellers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Skills4Work, Tegel, Wilson Hellaby, Anago, Cabernet Foods, NZ Pork, and Victorinox.