New Zealand’s best retail butchers have recently headed off to the Gold Coast to showcase their skills at the 2016 World Butchers’ Challenge, with two of them taking out top prizes. Teams from NZ, Australia, UK and France took part in the coveted competition, which saw Countdown Ponsonby apprentice Hohepa Smith win the title of World Butchers’ Champion Apprentice, while Pak’nSave Clarence St butcher Alana Empson, from Hamilton, was crowned as the International Young Butcher of the year.
Smith, who was selected to compete in the Challenge after he had won the title of Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year in NZ last year, demonstrated his practical skills in a three-hour challenge, being judged on accuracy, speed, food safety and display techniques. Now working at the new premiun supermarket in Ponsonby, Auckland, Smith started off his career at Countdown’s meat plant in Otahuhu in 2005. He said that being named as the Champion Apprentice sent him ‘over the moon’, and acknowledged the support of his team at Countdown, particularly his mentor Riki Kerekere.
Another young New Zealander, Pak’nSave Clarence St butcher Alana Empson was crowned international Young Butcher of the Year. She had three hours to prepare a whole lamb leg, a beef rump on the bone and a pork loin, but when her time was up she had created ten beef, four pork dishes and six lambs.
The next World Butchers’ Challenge will return in 2018.