Ngāpuhi mother wins national butcher award

By Jessica Tyson

Ngāpuhi apprentice butcher and single mother Cherise Redden has won the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year award after conquering at the national competition last night.

Redden was proud to finally hold the trophy after placing runner up last year.

“It was quite scary doing so much work and putting so much effort in, just to be rewarded for that was awesome,” she says.

But what made her happier was doing it for her whānau, being able to take the trophy home to her son Taiamai was the cherry on the cake.

“He actually pushed me...motivated me to do better and succeed and strive to be the best," she says.

Her parents couldn't be more proud.

"It just brought tears to my eyes,” says Cherise's pāpā, Mathew Redden,

Cherise's māmā Raima Redden says was unsure of how the results would go because the competition was tough this year.

“But when I heard her name I thought ‘Oh my goodness’. So proud,” she says.

"There's there are only Cherise and her son Taiamai who's five years old but all she wanted was a career that would give her and Taiamai something for the future and she's done that tonight.”

Redden has been training for two years at Countdown with master butcher and Alto Butcher of the year 2018, Riki Kerekere, of Ngāpuhi and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki.

“She's worked hard so for me personally she hit the goal that we set out.  Two years ago when she signed up for her apprenticeship I said to her 'One day I'm going to make you a superstar, all you've got to do is listen' and so here we are and I'm so proud of her,” says Kerekere.

During the competition, the apprentices were tasked with breaking down a size 16 chicken, a boneless beef rump, a full pork loin and a wild rabbit – as a mystery cut – into a themed display of value-added products.   

"The rabbit, I've never seen rabbit before in my life!  I've seen a live rabbit before obviously but never ever butchered a rabbit before," says Redden.

“Just tried to handle the pressure, the nerves and getting it all done in time.”

The apprentices were also expected to complete a 30 question, multiple-choice exam and an interview with the judges as part of their route to glory.

As this year's winner, she will travel to Sacramento in September 2020 to compete in the world championships alongside Kerekere and the 2018 ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of Year Corey White.

“It's going to be an awesome experience.  So many opportunities are going to arise from taking par so I'm quite excited for that,” says Redden.

The winner of the Alto Butcher of the Year title was Greg Egerton from Countdown Dunedin Central.

"Out of everything I’ve done in my career this feels the best.  I did my apprenticeship 26 years ago, back then value added was crumbed schnitzel and meatballs so I’ve been there through the whole evolution. Winning this is brilliant," says Egerton.

Head judge and captain of New Zealand’s butchery team, the Hellers Sharp Blacks, Corey Winder has been involved in the competition for 20 years now and says the skills needed to become a great butcher are ever-growing.

“The standard today is absolutely unbelievable.  You have to take your hat off to the competitors in the Alto Butcher of the Year competition, who didn’t know what cuts they would be getting until five minutes before the cutting test started.  You walk along and look at these displays, it wows you that these butchers have come up with these ideas within a two-hour time frame – it’s outstanding."