New Zealand’s national butchery team, the Pure South Sharp Blacks have their knives lined up for a final sharpening before heading to Ireland for the 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge. Much like when the All Blacks travelled to England in 2015 to take on the world in rugby, the Pure South Sharp Blacks are gearing up for a battle of their own on March 21st at the Titanic Exhibition centre in Belfast.

The competition started here in New Zealand in 2011 as a humble Trans-Tasman Test Match against Australia and has grown quickly to new heights with twelve teams from Bulgaria, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, South Africa and USA joining returning competitors, Great Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand.

Team captain, Corey Winder from Elite Meats Bush Inn in Christchurch is meeting his team in Auckland this weekend for their last practice before they head off overseas.

“This weekend is all about fine-tuning. It’s time to really pick apart our full display and techniques to ensure that we are heading over there with the best possible strategy.

“We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us but like any Kiwi team, we’re going in full force. It’s been a long time coming and we’re ready to stand our ground and battle it off against the best in the world,” said Winder.

Joining Corey are returning members, Greg Egerton from Mad Butcher in Dunedin and Hannah Miller Childs from A Lady Butcher in Auckland. The three are joined by newcomers, Jeremy Garth from New World Ferry Road in Christchurch, Zak Grammer from New World Eastridge in Auckland and Hohepa Smith, who currently works in Australia but will be travelling back to train with his team.

The World Butchers’ Challenge involves each team breaking down a side of beef, pork, a whole lamb and five chickens into a themed display of value-added cuts all within a three-hour, 15-minute timeframe.

Todd Heller, Hellers founder is travelling to Ireland as Head Judge of the competition. Todd and his panel of five judges will be assessing the teams on their presentation, preparation, finishing and overall display.

With a hat-trick of wins in 2013, 2014 and 2015, the Pure South Sharp Blacks are recognised as one of the toughest teams to battle against.  However, in 2016 at the last competition, first-time competitors, the Equipe de France Boucherie team from France were crowned champions at the competition on the Gold Coast in Australia.

The New Zealand team, proudly sponsored by Pure South, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, New Zealand Pork and Argus, will be joined by the ANZCO Foods Young Butchers of New Zealand who are travelling over to compete in the World Butchers’ Young Butcher and Apprentice Competition.

The 2018 ANZCO Foods Young Butchers of New Zealand are:

Amy Jones, New World Taumarunui, competing in the Young Butcher category

Luka Young, New World Eastridge Auckland, competing in the Young Butcher category

Ben Henry, New World Thorndon Wellington, competing in the Young Butcher category

Samantha Weller, New World Rangiora Christchurch, competing in the Butcher Apprentice category

Caption: Hohepa-Smith-Greg-Egerton-Jeremy-Garth-Corey-Winder-Zak-Grammar-Hannah-Miller-Childs