Finding his passion for flavour in Berlin was just one of the many career highlights of butcher Terry, who now works at the Strathmore branch of the Island Bay Butchery managing the meat selection and greeting customers with a smile and a sausage.
Becoming a butcher requires completing a 3–4 year apprenticeship. “The best thing about an apprenticeship these days is you actually get paid for it!” says Terry.
Most of the butchery-certified courses are located in Auckland and cover all aspects of meat mastery.
“[The course] gives you a good insight to the industry and you usually come out with a passion for a particular butchery skill. I now deal mostly with sausages, and enjoy mixing up the flavours.”
There are many opportunities open to butchers within both supermarket chains and specialist butcheries. Terry says that the job offers a lot more than just cutting and serving meat.
“Becoming a butcher can take you all over the world. I did a nine-month stint in Berlin and had great time. The best thing about this trade is that you can take it anywhere and still be able to get a job, because even though languages change in different countries, sheep, cows, pigs, etc don’t.”
There’s a lot of standing up, moving around and carrying large cuts of meat involved so having a good work ethic is key to the trade. It’s important, says Terry, to actually enjoy the job and to have good people skills.
“You see the guys that only turn up to work to do their hours and feel sorry for them; they get less work done and don’t enjoy what they are spending the majority of their days doing. I recommend if you choose any job, a willingness to work is a key to success.”
Butchery has changed over the past two years, with more registered butchers having completing their courses/apprenticeships now than in the entire previous decade, including a greater mix of ethnicities rising up the ranks.
Butchery is one of the most diverse trades; it’s not limited only to men, nor is it limited to any race or culture – butchers come from all walks of life. There’s also a high demand at the moment for younger butchers as many are in the later stages of life, so there are great opportunities for young butchers to secure jobs in the industry.
“Butchery is a trade for both sexes,” says Terry. “Three of the past five winners of the Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year have been women, so it goes to show the potential for diversity in this industry.”
‘For anyone looking to become a part of this industry, go and ask your local butcher if you can have a look around and get some work experience. I have taken in students interested in this trade and given them a brief tour and walkthrough. Some loved what they saw; some weren’t as interested.
“I recommend having a look before you decide on what to do as this trade isn’t for everyone.”