Viva la France! Aussie Steelers upstaged by newcomers in World Butchers’ Challenge event

Jon Condon, September 12, 2016
The French team prepares for battle before Saturday's event

The French team prepares for battle before Saturday’s event

FIRST-TIME entrants, Team France Boucherie took out the 2016 World Butchers Challenge held on the Gold Coast yesterday, defeating nationally-selected teams of six butchers from Australia, the United Kingdom and three-times previous champions, New Zealand.

The unique event, being held for the sixth time, pitted 24 of the world’s best retail butchers in an intense three-hour team battle to break down bodies of lamb, beef and pork and convert the raw material into a first-class value-added retail butchery display.

Australia’s team of gun butchers, the Steelers, performed exceptionally well during the high-pressure three-hour competitive challenge, delivering an outstanding and highly attractive display, but were beaten by a better team on the day.

The French team included captain Didier Masscot, Joel Lucas, Lucas Bayle (apprentice), Yoann Mounier-Vehier, Oliver Bayle, Joseph Fagnini and Aurelien Brise.

Aussie Steelers get in some last minute bonding before the competition gets underway

Aussie Steelers get in some last minute bonding before the competition gets underway

Four international judges officiated during the event, plus international chef and restaurateur Sean Connolly from New Zealand.

Event convenor Trevor Saville from Saville’s Fresh Meat Market at Helensvale, said the Challenge was all about pitting some of the best tradesmen and women from across Australasia, the UK and Europe in a test of knife skills, presentation flair, value-adding ability and retail savvy.

As always, the event was an incredible showcase for value-adding skills, designed to add convenience, and reduce preparation time for busy householders who still want to produce a quality home-cooked meal for the family.

Beef Central has prepared this separate item this morning, focusing on the value-added product trends evident among this year’s entries. As can be seen in the photos embedded in that article, the event served to showcase latest trends in value-adding work in retail butchery, which continue to evolve in exciting new directions.

The World Butchers’ Challenge has grown out of the former Tri-Nations Butchers Challenge, involving teams from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, held six times since the low-key inaugural event in 2011. Other countries, including Ireland, are looking to join the competition next year.

Aussie team, foreground, French team (black) and UK team (red) during the heat of the competition.

Aussie team, foreground, French team (black) and UK team (red) during the heat of the competition.

The teams of six were judged on their preparation, knife skills, product innovation and value-adding, presentation, finishing and display, and articulation – all elements that the global butchery industry sees as vital ingredients to the longevity and continued growth of independent butchers.

Some items will be taken through to cooked stage for a taste test component. A sausage section, including taste test of the cooked product, will be included for the first time.

Australia’s representatives in the competition this year were co-captains Adam Stratton from Tender Value Meats (NSW) and Michael James from Carina North Quality Meats (QLD); Nick Dagg, Heights Butchery, Cairns (QLD); Tom Bouchier, Peter Bouchier Butchers of Distinction (VIC); Colin Garrett, Colin’s Meats, Sydney (NSW); and Paul Brady, Tender Gourmet butchery, Hornsby (NSW).

NZ claims international crowns for apprentices, young-guns

In addition to the main competition for teams of six experienced butchers, there were apprentice and ‘Young Gun’ (qualified tradesmen/women under 30) categories for individuals.

Judges quiz a UK apprentice about features of her retail presentation in the apprentice's competition

Judges quiz a UK apprentice about features of her retail presentation in the apprentice’s competition

Named international apprentice butcher was Hohepa Smith from New Zealand, while the ‘Young Gun’ international butcher of the year was Alana Empson, also from NZ.

Australia’s representatives in the International Young Guns division were Matthew Papandrea from Joe Papandrea Quality Meats (NSW), and Dianna Edwards, from Sydney, who won the recent Meat Wars event.

Our representatives in the international apprentice competition were Ryan Dougherty from Bruce’s Meats in Adelaide, and Suzanne Roeger, from Melbourne.

Australian apprentice Ryan Doherty from Adelaide, shows off his value-added output after judging

Australian apprentice Ryan Doherty from Adelaide, shows off his presentation after judging

Major sponsors for the World Butchers’ Challenge this year are Australian Pork Ltd, and Meat & Livestock Australia. All of the MSA beef and lamb, and pork carcases used in the competition were provided by vertically-integrated red meat producer and wholesaler, Woodward Foods Australia, which is in transition from its old business name of Murray Valley Meats.

Preceding the Challenge was a five day study tour taking in NSW and southern Queensland, which attracted about 70 participants.

A gala dinner was held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre after judging on Saturday evening, combining the World Butchers’ Challenge awards with the annual Australian Meat Industry Council Queensland retail awards event.



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