Mathew Wilson, 19, has been honing his butchery skills at Levin’s Write Price for the past 18 months to win the regional final in May and take the national runner-up placing in Auckland last month.

During the one-day competition, Wilson and four other regional finalists were put through their paces, including a job interview, written exam and a chance to showcase their cutting skills to transform a size 20 chicken, beef t-bone, pork shoulder and lamb shoulder into a value-added product display within two hours.

The apprentices were given compulsory cuts to perform but also had to display their creative side to really impress the judges.

“One of my creations was a version of the ‘double down’, a chicken stack stuffed with bacon, cheese and slices of mango.

“I didn’t think my cutting test was the best but I’m pretty self-critical, I’m hard to please me. I ran out of time and missed out on doing a couple of cuts I wanted to do but overall I thought I had a good display.”

Wilson started working at Levin Write Price six years ago as a cleaner in the butchery and on the shop floor while still at Horowhenua College before being offered an apprenticeship at age 18.

“I’ve loved it ever since. I’d never cut meat before and knew nothing about the different cuts of meat before I started,” he said.

His favourite cut is now a scotch fillet cooked medium rare.

Wilson has one more year left as an apprentice and his recent success has fired him up to try and take the title next year.

He said he had a lot of people to thank for getting him to this stage, almost too many to mention but “they know who they are”.

The longest running retail meat industry competition of its kind in New Zealand, The Young Butcher and Butcher Apprentice of the Year is designed to recognise and encourage excellence in the butchery trade.

Source: Wanganui Chronicle

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