From humble beginnings as a Trans-Tasman competition between Australia and New Zealand, progressing to the Tri-Nations competition including the Brits, to now, what is known as the World Butchers’ Challenge! A truly worldwide butchering competition has evolved. This year will see an increase of teams involved, from four teams at last competition, to a huge twelve countries from across the globe. All will come together in Belfast for an incredible display of butchery skill and finesse.

The competition itself is a 3.5 hour event where each team is given a selection of meat: a side of pork, side of beef, a whole lamb and five chickens. From this selection they must utilise the carcasses to their totality, creating as many dishes as they like with a focus of innovation and technique. There will be an overall winning team as well as additional awards for various categories including: Best Pork Product, Best Lamb Product, Best Beef Sausage, Best Gourmet Sausage, Best Hygiene/Health & Safety Award. There is also the addition of a prestigious ‘World Team’ where six individual butchers will be announced as the ‘best of the best’.

The World Butchers’ Challenge encompasses not only a tremendous event where our butchers go head to head in a showcase of skill, tradition, innovation and passion for one of the oldest trades in the world, but also offers a study tour that allows all participants to gain knowledge and greater understanding of the meat industry within the host country. The itinerary will include factory tours, retail butcher shop visits, master butcher demonstrations as well as some cultural aspects of Belfast and Ireland. The tour sees them right in the heart of Dublin on what is probably the biggest day on the Irish calendar – St Patrick’s Day, 17th March, no doubt there will be some sore heads the following day.

As one of the founding teams within the challenge – the Australian Steelers will enter the competition with a good understanding of what is required of them and the types of difficulties they may face on competition day. A trans-tasman grudge match saw the Aussie team go head-to-head with the Kiwis last year in a one on one battle where the Steelers were victorious, putting the Aussies in a good position coming into the WBC 2018. However, with such a big increase in the number of participating teams, comes an even greater contest in seeking the trophy!

Tom Bouchier has been a team member since 2013, having joined the Australian Steelers after completing his apprenticeship. This will be his fourth competition, and by far the biggest and most exciting. The Aussies have made us proud at every competition, however it has been some time since we’ve seen a win, perhaps this year is the one for us!

We wish the Australian Steelers all the best for their time away, we hope they enjoy the trip and bring home the win!