Welsh butchers fully prepared for World Butchers’ Challenge
A team of Welsh butchers is primed and ready to represent Wales after an intensive period of training in preparation for the World Butchers’ Challenge in the United States, taking place on 2nd and 3rd September.
That’s the opinion of Craft Butchery Team Wales co-ordinator Chris Jones, who will be one of the judges at the global competition, which will be contested by 13 countries in Sacramento, California.
The Welsh team, who fly out to Sacramento on 30th August, will be making their debut at the World Butchers’ Challenge where Celtic cousins Ireland will be defending their title.
The team’s final training session was held on Sunday 21st August, when Jones, the head of Cambrian Training Company’s food and drink business unit, put his judge’s hat on to cast a strict eye over the butchers’ work.
“The team has improved so much in the last six weeks in terms of being organised, methodical and fast,” he said. “They have trained every Sunday for the past six weeks and their hard work has paid off. They have really stepped it up and are excited and ready to go.
“I cannot praise the butchers enough for their commitment and dedication. The team spirit is great and we are one of the few countries in the competition that has had the same members since the cycle began. We are also very lucky to have fantastic support from our sponsors and others associated with the team.”
Formed in 2020 and managed by retired butcher and experienced competition judge Steve Vaughan from Penyffordd, near Wrexham, the Craft Butchery Team Wales is a division of the Culinary Association of Wales.
The team comprises: Peter Rushforth from Innovative Food Ingredients, Lytham St Annes, who is captain; Craig Holly, from Chris Hayman Butchers, Maesycymer, Hengoed; Tom Jones from Jones Brothers, Wrexham; Matthew Edwards, a lecturer at Coleg Cambria, Connah’s Quay; Dan Raftery from Meat Masters Butchers, Newtown; Liam Lewis from Hawarden Farm Shop; and Ben Roberts from M. E. Evans Butchers, Overton-on-Dee.
What is the challenge?
The competition is conducted over three hours and 15 minutes, with competing teams given a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb and five chickens which they must then transform into a themed display of value-added products.
Teams are allowed to provide their own seasonings, spices, marinades and garnish to finish products that are designed to inspire and push the boundaries, yet which are also cookable and would sell. Independent judges score each team based on technique and skill, workmanship, product innovation, overall finish and presentation.
Ben Roberts will also represent Wales in the World Champion Butcher Apprentice competition on 2nd September. Modelled on the World Butchers’ Challenge, butcher apprentices have just two hours and 15 minutes to break down a range of primal cuts into a display of pre-determined products and their own creations.
“It’s an entirely new experience for our butchers because this will be their first team competition and they don’t come any bigger than the World Butchers’ Challenge,” added Chris Jones. He continued: “They are all proud to be representing Wales and we shall be doing our utmost to fly the Welsh flag with style. It’s a far bigger competition this year than it has been in the past, so Wales will not be the only country making its debut.”