Six butchers will be aiming to prove that they are a cut above the rest when they showcase their skills in the Welsh Craft Butcher of the Year final on Monday.
The contest is being held on the first day of the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) at the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales), Newport from January 22-24, 2024. The event is open free of charge to the public and hospitality trade.
Sponsored by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) and Cambrian Training Company, the final brings together the best Welsh butchers.
Competing for the coveted title will be Ben Roberts, owner of Astley & Stratton Ltd, Farndon, near Chester; Philip Tucker from Tuckers Butchers, Mumbles; Ieuan Hughes from Golden Valley Meat & Game, Grosmont, Abergavenny; Ieuan Pincott from Oriel Jones, Canton, Cardiff; Jack Hefford from Morrisons, Porth and Elis Morris from Daniel Morris Butchers, Mold.
The butchers will undertake two tasks to showcase their skills to judges from the Craft Butchery Team Wales. They will have 30 minutes to cut a whole lamb into primal joints, as well as clean their work area.
For the second task, they will have one hour and 20 minutes to produce a visually exciting display to merchandise the meat showcasing both their skills and creativity.
The butchers must also create a minimum of two lamb products, identical in appearance and size, that judges will weigh to check consistency.
The judges will be looking for technical skills, innovation, creativity and a detailed description of each product created, together with cooking instructions.
The contest is open to Welsh butchers only, aged 16 and over, and they can be employed or studying for a qualification in a college or establishment anywhere in the world.
The competition could be a stepping stone to the Craft Butchery Team Wales, which includes five former Welsh Butcher of the Year or Welsh Young Butcher of the Year winners – captain Peter Rushforth, Matthew Edwards, Tomi Jones, Dan Allen-Raftery and Craig Holly.
Arwyn Watkins, OBE, CAW president and Cambrian Training Company’s executive chairman, said: “The Welsh Craft Butcher of the Year competition provides the perfect platform for the best Welsh butchers of all ages to showcase their skills.
“It’s a huge honour to be named the best in Wales at your chosen vocation and this will be a chance to watch highly skilled butchers demonstrating their skills and meat display techniques.”
Organised by the CAW, the 2024 WICC will also be holding National and Junior Chef of Wales finals, Green Chef Challenge, a wide range of skills classes as well as hosting the Skills Competition Wales hospitality finals.
There will also be the unique opportunity for WICC visitors to try the menus from the different competitions, on a first come first served basis, by booking tickets via firstname.lastname@example.org .
Climax of the three days of competitions is an Industry Awards Dinner on the evening of Wednesday, January 24, which will showcase the best Welsh food and drink. Tickets are now on sale for the dinner via email@example.com costing £1,000 for tables of 12 or £100 for individuals.
The WICC’s headline sponsors are the Welsh Government, Castell Howell, Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales, ICC Wales, Cambrian Training Company, Kentaur, Churchill, MCS Technical Products, Roller Grill, Radnor Hills, Dick Knifes, Cygnet Gin, Capital Cuisine, Ecolab, City & Guilds and Compass Cymru.
Finalists in last year’s Welsh Craft Butcher of the Year final.