Aotearoa’s Top Butchers Announced

Cherise Redden from PAKn’SAVE Glen Innes has won the prestigious Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year title. Isaac Webster from New World Gardens, Dunedin was crowned ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year at the National Butchery Awards which took place today at the Vodafone Events Centre, in Auckland.  No Egos Amigos took out the first-ever teams’ challenge at the Pure South Master Butcher Teams Challenge.

Cherise Redden is no stranger to success having taken out the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice title in 2019, however, this crown clearly meant a lot to the South Auckland-based butcher.

“This means a huge amount to me. I have been committed to working hard and always putting in one hundred percent, and today, this is proof that I am as good as everyone says I am. I want to tell other young women to go for their dreams – you never know what you can achieve. If you want to do well, and if you’re passionate, you’ll succeed”.

Finalists were chosen throughout June and July following five tightly fought regional competitions in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, involving over 40 competitors.  The six young butchers and six apprentices in the two categories went head-to-head in a spectacular battle of the butchers that saw knives flashing, bandsaws humming and mincers grinding.

The two-hour cutting test required competitors to keep their nerve 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 whole pork leg, and a beef short loin into a display of value-added products as well as a mystery cut of a lamb forequarter.

In addition to this, the apprentices were also expected to complete a 30 question, multiple-choice exam and an interview with the judges as part of their route to glory.

With a record number of apprentices taking up the trade this year, the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice category provides an invaluable opportunity for those just starting out in the industry.

Isaac Webster, from New World Gardens, was crowned the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year. He said determination, focus and support were the keys to his success.

“It has been a two-year journey to get here and compete today. I won my competition in Dunedin last year but due to an injury I was unable to compete, so that makes today even more amazing. I feel lucky and thankful for everyone who has helped and supported me along the way.”

Head Judge Peter Martin who is the Butchery Training Advisor at Skills4Work in Auckland, said this year’s competition was a real showstopper.

“I’ve been to all the regionals and have seen the passion for the industry and hunger from competitors to make it to the National Butchery Awards. Once again, I saw that passion – and the skills they possess – shine through tonight.  It showed in their displays and made it difficult to decide on a winner.  It was a very close competition.”

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 a one and a half-hour ‘sprint’ breaking down a whole lamb and a beef hindquarter.  This first-ever teams challenge was the 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 winning team, Marty Hiki, David Anthony Parsons and Haane Rudolph, took out the Pure South Master Butcher Teams Challenge and owed their success to pulling together, and working as a team.

“We work in a job where we train apprentices, and to see us achieve this, and to pass that on to our apprentices means a lot. I am very proud of our team and want to congratulate all the other competitors today. This is a celebration of the talent within our industry and is something we can all be proud of," said Team Captain, Marty Hiki.

Alongside industry and peer recognition, the winning Pact Packaging Young Butcher receives a coveted trophy plus the choice of either an all-expenses-paid butchery study tour or a $4,000 cash prize. The ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year also receives a trophy plus the choice of either an all-expenses-paid butchery study tour or a $3,000 cash prize.  The butchery store they work for also receives a $1,000 cash prize.

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 Pact Packaging, ANZCO Foods, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Competenz, Dunninghams, Hellers, Tegel, Wilson Hellaby, Victorinox, Cabernet Foods, NZ Pork and Pure South.