New Zealand’s butchery team – The Sharp Blacks – has been announced as they kick off their journey to the 2020 World Butchers’ Challenge (WBC) in Sacramento, California. The seven-man team, which includes one reserve, is made up of the best butchers from across the country and preparation will now start in earnest as they plan for the ‘Olympics of Butchery’ in September 2020.
The Sharp Blacks squad is made up of the following members;
- Corey Winder (Team Captain, Product Developer) – Elite Meats Bush Inn, Christchurch
- Jeremy Garth (Product Developer) – New World Ferry Road, Christchurch
- David Timbs (Product Developer) – Peter Timbs Meats, Christchurch
- Riki Kerekere (Breaking & Boning) – Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland
- Reuben Sharples (Breaking & Boning) – Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland
- James Smith (Garnishing & Display) – PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe, Auckland
- Luka Young (reserve) – New World Eastridge, Auckland
The Sharp Blacks have a strong track record at the WBC (and its previous incarnations) with three victories as well as taking out second-place earlier this year in Belfast, Northern Ireland, losing only to the home team.
Team Captain, Corey Winder, who has led the team since its inception in 2011, is an instrumental figure in the retail meat industry and has been the driving force behind the team’s success over the years. He said of the team’s selection: “We were incredibly lucky to have an excess of enthusiastic butchers to select from. The applications were really strong and we had an incredibly tough job deciding who made the squad.
“Any one of the applicants would have deserved a seat on the plane to Sacramento, so we’ve had the luxury of picking a balanced team that suits the various roles required and I believe we are going with one of our strongest squads yet.”
The World Butchers’ Challenge, a biennial event which started out as a Trans-Tasman Test Match in 2011, will head to the iconic Golden 1 Center in the Californian city of Sacramento after a tough and rigorous bidding process which included proposals from Paris, France and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Once there, sixteen international teams will be tasked with slicing up a side of beef (half a carcass), a side of pork (half a carcass), a whole lamb and five chickens to produce a themed display of value-added products in the pressure-inducing time of just three hours and fifteen minutes.
A global panel of judges will then score each display based on strict criteria that includes; knife skills, hygiene, safety, consistency, time management, cookability & saleability as well as style, visual impact and innovation of the display.
Kiwi Rod Slater, WBC Founder and Chairman of the Organising Committee, is credited with coming up with the original concept of the Trans-Tasman Test Match. Alongside Ashley Gray, World Butchers’ Challenge CEO, they have driven, in just a few years, what was a fun, industry-focused event into an international phenomenon attracting world-wide media coverage, record sponsorship as well as a parody music video battle where teams recreate iconic songs with butchery themed lyrics.
Slater said of the exponential success: “When I came up with the concept over a glass of whisky with an Aussie colleague, I never thought it would grow into what it is today. It just goes to show that the international butchery trade is not just alive and kicking, it’s truly flourishing.
“In relation to our own Sharp Blacks, I am so proud of the success they have achieved and the consistency of their performances. Corey has led this team with a grounded determination you’d expect of any Kiwi sports team. Whilst I am supposed to appear neutral in my support, I can’t help but smile when I see them perform so well and wish them all the best in their preparations for Sacramento.”