I’ve been to many a butchery event in New Zealand, and I’m always super impressed at the skills needed to create a really good cut of meat. It’s not an easy job either – as well as incredibly sharp knives, every butcher is also armed with substantial muscles too!
The annual Butcher of the Year competition took place in Auckland last night, and Riki Kerekere from Countdown Meat and Seafood has taken out the title of Butcher of the Year. Corey White, another butcher from Countdown, was crowned the Apprentice Butcher of the Year at the Grand Finale last night in Auckland.
Following tightly fought regional competitions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, involving over 50 competitors, the 10 finalists in each category battled it out yesterday afternoon before the winners were announced at the red carpet awards dinner.
Riki Kerekere oversees the butchery operation at Countdown’s central processing plant in Ōtāhuhu, Auckland and said he had a lot of people to thank for his win.
“It’s not easy to get yourself organised and do all the work for this. You need good people to help you and I’d like to thank all my extended whānau at Countdown who have got me here.”
The competitors were required to show their cutting skills in a two-hour test of skills, nerve and expertise. They had to show their cutting and presenting skills while breaking down a size 16 chicken, a boneless beef rump, a full pork loin and a forequarter of lamb – a mystery cut that competitors were only told about at the start of the competition – into a themed display of value-added products. In addition to this, the apprentice butchers were also expected to complete a 30 question, multiple choice exam and an interview with the judges.
Corey White, who was a last-minute replacement for another competitor who dropped out, said that his last minute call up was pretty stressful as he only had a week to prepare for the finals.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work to pull it off. I’d like to thank Countdown who have given a lot of time off work to train and Riki Kerekere for putting me in the right position, “ he said.
Alton Gullery, Head of Meat and Seafood says that Riki Kerekere and Corey White’s win is a fantastic result and everyone at Countdown are delighted for them.
“Countdown has an amazing apprenticeship and career path for our butchers. Under Riki’s fantastic leadership, everyday the team is creating the best cuts of meat for our customers. This is a huge win for all the team and everyone is extremely proud of Riki and Corey,” he says.
As well as the glory and satisfaction of winning these respected awards, Riki Kerekere and Corey White will receive an all-expenses paid spot on the 2020 World Butchers’ Challenge Study Tour in Sacramento, California, a knife set courtesy of Victorinox and the coveted Alto Butcher or ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year trophies. Corey will also receive a position on the ANZCO Foods Young Butchers of New Zealand squad.