It’s a week out from the national Alto Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of Year and Cherise Redden of Ngāphui has her knives out and ready to go.
Last year Redden came second at nationals. This year she has her eyes on gold.
“I’m excited, she says, “It’s something I never expected to do just from working in butchery. It just opens a lot of opportunities. It turns a trade into a career path.”
A total of eight apprentice butchers and six master butchers from all around the country will go head-to-head in their respective competitions.
As part of the event, competitors will have two hours to prepare a table of meat.
“We've got pork, beef and chicken and we have a mystery cut that we don’t know until five minutes before the competition starts.”
Redden was trained by the best, the reigning national master butcher champion, Riki Kerekere.
“We've been training for three days now. Just to list our table, perfect our cuts and try and make any changes additions we can.”
Kerekere, who will also compete next week, says he’s nervous but excited for his two apprentices taking part, “I know they’re going to do well.”
"It’s going to be a bit different for me because this year they're doing all mystery cuts so we don’t know what we're getting and I think that concept is fantastic. It really challenges you.”
The 2018 ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice winner, Corey White says a highlight of being a butcher is being popular in the marae kitchen.
“You get a lot of respect … it’s good. You get out of all the boring stuff!"
Kerekere has qualified for the World Butchers Challenge in Sacramento, California next year and White will join Kerekere on a study tour and compete at the World Champion Butcher Apprentice competition.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a big step up from what I’m used to. Got a lot of work to do but yeah, it’ll be good,” says White.
And Cherise could be joining them.
“I've got to try and win this one and hopefully we will and we'll make it to Sacramento next year. That’s the goal."
The national competition will be held next Thursday.