Butchers vie for national title

James Smith presents his final cuts.

The knives were out, aprons on and everyone was focused as twenty finalists vied for the prestigious titles of Alto Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year for 2017.

James Smith from Pak’n Save Pukekohe was one of ten 2017 Alto Butcher Finalists at the event on Thursday 31 August.
Held at Shed 10, Auckland, he was competing against Alana Empson, from Pak’n Save Clarence St, Hamilton. Alana had humble beginnings at New World, Waiuku, before becoming an internationally recognised butcher last year in the inaugural International Young Butcher of the Year competition.
While neither James nor Alana placed at this year’s competition, the judges say the attention to detail and focus on creativity and cookability from the butchers in this year’s competition was very impressive.
The finalists faced a practical cutting test in which they had just two hours to break down a size 20 chicken, beef sirloin and pork shoulder into a themed display of value added products. They were also presented a mystery cut, a large turkey, to breakdown within the time limit.
This year’s competition was particularly fierce, being the first year that entrants over 30 years were welcomed to enter the Alto Butcher of the Year category, allowing both butchers who are fairly new to the trade, and those with many years of experience to get involved and see how they stacked up against their peers.

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