Competitors chop it out at Young Butcher Awards

Competitors chop it out at Young Butcher Awards

Meat experts spent Thursday night deciding who New Zealand's best young butcher is.

The young butchers had two hours to make the cut.

"So we're looking for that flair and when they're cutting, they do that precisely just like in a butcher's shop, that's what we want to see," head judge Matt Grimes says.

Alongside nine guys turning a slab of pork shoulder into choice cuts was 26-year-old Amy Jones from Taumarunui.

"It's just a male dominated trade," she says.

"I don't think a lot of them are interested in it either because it's quite mucky. Dealing with animals and blood, you either like it or you don't."

In fact, having one in 10 reflects the gender balance in the industry.

For many, a butcher is always that cheeky chappy with the gift of the gab.

"'Pleased to meet you and we've got meat to please you,' that kind of thing," Mr Grimes laughs.

He wants more women slicing and dicing.

"What we've found is that they're far more particular than some of the guys, the guys can be a little bit aggressive in their approach, a bit fast and rip it to bits whereas the girls tend to be a bit more attention to detail, which is what we're looking for."

Not just the judges, but big industry players were watching from the sidelines.

Future stars have been shoulder tapped in past finals so Ms Jones added indigenous ingredients to make her effort stand out.

"The pork roast with the pecopeco inside it, pork and pecopeco [is a] beautiful combination," she says.

Like all the finalists, Ms Jones worked to the final second.

"It was the first like hour and a half freaking out, trying to get everything done then they said there's 20 minutes to go and I felt a bit of relief after that," she says.

But her effort didn't go unnoticed.

"To be honest I thought she was struggling a bit, but I've seen Amy work before and she keeps a calm head, and she's put a brilliant display out, one of the best," Mr Grimes says.

Not just one of the best but the best. Ms Jones was on Thursday evening awarded the Young Butcher of the Year.