Amy Jones and Ben Henry were named the best young butchers in the nation following the 2016 Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year Grand Final at Shed 10 last Thursday.
Amy – Jones from New World Taumarunui – took home the title of Alto Young Butcher and Ben Henry from New World Centre City, Dunedin won the Competenz Butcher Apprentice category after placing second last year.
Amy and Ben both showcased their skills in a practical cutting test in which they transformed a No.20 chicken, a beef sirloin, a pork shoulder and a mystery cut of lamb shoulder, into a display of value-added products.
The ten finalists also had their communication abilities and theoretical knowledge tested in an interview, a written exam and an on-stage challenge for those in the Alto Young Butcher category.
Amy says she is overwhelmed by the significance of her achievement, winning an international study tour to Europe. “I’ve proven to myself what I can do and now I have an amazing opportunity ahead of me. I’m looking forward to learning what they do overseas and just maybe I can share my skills and knowledge across the globe too,” says Amy.
Ben explains it takes drive as well as skill to win a competition of this calibre. “Everything just seemed to fall into place for me on competition day. I’ve been practicing a lot but I think the drive to win just really kicked into gear.”
“It’s incredibly humbling and I’m so grateful that I’ve chosen a career I not only enjoy, but I’m good at. It’s an amazing feeling,” says Ben.
The longest running retail meat industry competition of its kind in New Zealand, it is designed to recognise and encourage excellence in the butchery trade. Long-time judge of the competition, Matt Grimes, believes the butchers really stepped up their game for the Grand Final.
“The expertise and passion these butchers bring to the competition is outstanding. Year after year, the standard improves and our job is increasingly more difficult. However, we’re really happy with the chosen winners, and they are both very deserving of the international study tour,” says Grimes.
The competition is proudly supported by Alto, Competenz, Alliance Group, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Dunninghams, Hellers, Kerry Ingredients, New Zealand Pork, Tegel and Wilson Hellaby.