New Zealand begins 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge campaign

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

NZ 2016 team member, Rowan Lee in action
NZ 2016 team member, Rowan Lee in action
The New Zealand Pure South Sharp Blacks are looking to regain their crown as the best butchers in the world.

Even though the 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge is just under two years away, they are looking to avenge this year’s loss to newcomer France and are already looking to develop a team to compete.

The team is inviting butchers to nominate themselves for a place on the national squad of six, who will travel to Belfast in March, 2018 to represent New Zealand.

Corey Winder, 2016 team captain, said the competition was set to become more difficult as more teams get involved.

I’ve competed for the last six years from when it all begin in 2011 as a Trans-Tasman competition; it has been gaining momentum ever since the UK joined in 2013 and, this year, France competed for the first time,” ​he said. “Now that the competition has been set for Ireland in 2018, we’ve had interest from Scotland, Germany, Italy and Spain. Even though France were newcomers this year, they took the title so there’s no doubt in my mind these new countries will raise the bar even higher.​”

Heart and soul

The Pure South Sharp Blacks won the competition three consecutive years in a row, from 2013 to 2015.

Todd Heller, team manager and selector, said he was looking for butchers with not only technique to rival the best in the world, but those with passion and a love of the industry.

What these butchers do when they come together as a team is incredible, I’ve seen team members pour their heart and soul into this competition and they come out on the other side with lifelong friends and mentors from all around the world.

What the Pure South Sharp Blacks do is not dissimilar to any of our national sporting teams; they’re representing us in an international arena, putting New Zealand on the map.​”

The World Butchers’ Challenge is designed to showcase the highest level of skill in butchery and involves each team breaking down a side of beef, pork and a whole lamb into a themed display of value-added cuts, all within a three-hour timeframe.

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