In the last of the Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher of the Year regional finals, the Upper North Island’s best young butchers have been confirmed. The winner of the Alto Young Butcher category was Luka Young from PAK’nSAVE Lincoln Road, while the winner of the Competenz Butcher Apprentice category was Hohepa Smith from Countdown Meat and Livestock.
In just two hours, entrants turned a beef rump, pork loin and a size 20 chicken into a display of value-added cuts in the practical cutting test. They also sat a written exam and were interviewed by judges to test their communication skills and knowledge of the trade.
Luka, winner of the Competenz Butcher of the Year Grand Final last year, says it is being part of a great team and working environment that enabled him to hone his butchery skills. “Initially it was just a job, but I quickly learned to love it and decided it was the career path for me,” he said.
Excited for his second year at the Grand Final, Luka is keen to keep improving his butchery skills.
“Going into the finals I’m looking forward to the chance to learn more about the trade. Winning the regional really forces you to improve your craft,” he said.
Hohepa, who has been in the industry for 10 years, says his point of difference is his knife skills. “I started off as a meat packer and it was just a job to me, but then I decided I wanted to be a beef boner so I focussed on my knife skills and went from there,” he said.
With the Grand Final on September 10 at Shed 10 in Auckland, Luka and Hohepa now prepare to compete against finalists from four other regions in competition for an international butchery study tour.