Wales is hoping to send a team of talented butchers to the World Butchers’ Challenge in the United States for the first time next year.
The recently formed Craft Butchery Team Wales, which will be managed by retired butcher and experience competition judge Steve Vaughan from Penyffordd, was this week welcomed as a new division of the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) at the chefs’ biennial meeting in Welshpool.
Craig Holly, from Neil Powell Butchers, Abergavenny, will represent Craft Butchery Team Wales on the CAW National Committee.
The World Butchers’ Challenge comprises several elements with competitions for teams of six butchers, young butchers and apprentice butchers. There are also individual prizes for best pork, lamb, beef, poultry and products and beef, pork and gourmet sausages.
In addition, the judges will select six butchers from all entrants for a ‘best of the best’ world team award.
During the competition, teams will be given three hours and 15 minutes to butcher a side of pork, side of beef, a whole lamb and five chickens. The meat will then be presented in a display.
Craft Butchery Team Wales captain is Peter Rushforth from Ernest W. Edge and Son, Handbridge, Chester, former winner of Butchery WorldSkills UK and Welsh Butcher of the Year competitions. He will fly to Sacramento in September for the Captains’ Run, which is designed to prepare international teams for next year’s competition.
Squad members include Craig Holly, Tommy Jones, Jones Brothers, Wrexham, Matt Edwards, Coleg Cambria, Connah’s Quay, Dan Raftery, Randall Parker Foods, Llanidloes and Liam Lewis, The Hollies Farm Shop, Tarporley.
More butchers are expected to join the squad over the coming months. The support team includes Chris Jones, head of the food and drink business unit and training officer Frank Selby, both from Cambrian Training Company, Welshpool, which organises the Welsh Butcher of the Year and Butchery WorldSkills UK competitions.
Chris Jones explained that Cambrian Training Company had been seeking a chance to expose talented Welsh butchers to global competitions for several years.
“Opportunities for Wales to compete in the World Butchers’ Challenge don’t come along very often,” he added. “This competition will provide our butchers with a platform to compete against the best in the world.”
Mr Vaughan said: “I am looking forward to managing these very talented butchers and I think we have a chance to building a good team. All the lads have done well in top quality competitions and know how to compete at the highest level.”
He is delighted that Welsh butchers are now being brought together as a division of the CAW. “The Culinary Team Wales is used to competing at the highest level around the world and they will be able to pass on their knowledge, skills and experience to our team members,” he added.
“We shall be seeking their advice and guidance about products, garnishes, sauces and seasonings.”
He revealed that there is a possibility of Butchery Team Wales competing in a new Four Nations Competition in Ireland in October, but plans are yet to be finalised. In the meantime, the team is seeking support from sponsors to enable the butchers to fly the flag for Wales in competitions.
CAW president Arwyn Watkins, OBE, who is also managing director of Cambrian Training Company, said he was delighted to welcome the craft butchers to the CAW as they had “no natural home in Wales” and were just setting out as a national team.
He believed there were many mutual continuing professional development benefits in having Welsh craft butchers and craft chefs in the same association.