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Welsh butchers challenged to prove they are a cut above the rest

Welsh Culinary Association National Chef Of Wales 2023. Picture by Phil Blagg Photography.

Welsh butchers are sharpening their knives to test their skills in the country’s top competition.

The Welsh Craft Butcher of the Year final will be held at the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC), taking place from January 22-24, 2024 at the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales), Newport. The event will be free entry and open to the public and hospitality trade.

Sponsored by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) and Cambrian Training Company, the contest is open to Welsh butchers only, aged 16 and over, and they can be employed or studying for a qualification in a college or establishment anywhere in the world.

The online entry form is available at: https://www.culinaryassociation.wales/welsh-butcher-of-the-year-2024/  and must be received by January 15, 2024  together with a £30 entrance fee.

Butchers will undertake two tasks to showcase their skills to judges from the Craft Butchery Team Wales. They will have 30 minutes to cut a whole lamb into primal joints, as well as clean their work area. 

For the second task, they will have one hour and 20 minutes to produce a visually exciting display to merchandise the meat showcasing both their skills and creativity.

The judges will be looking for technical skills, innovation, creativity and a detailed description of each product created, together with cooking instructions. Competitors must also create a minimum of two lamb products, identified in appearance and size, that judges will weigh to check consistency.

The competition could be a stepping stone to the Craft Butchery Team Wales, which includes five former Welsh Butcher of the Year or Welsh Young Butcher of the Year winners – captain Peter Rushforth, Matthew Edwards, Tomi Jones, Dan Allen-Raftery and Craig Holly.

Last year’s champion butcher was Adam Jones from Swans Farm Shop, Treuddyn, near Mold, “ I left school with the minimum qualifications and now I am one of the best in Wales at my trade,” he said after winning  “I didn’t know what I was going to do when I left school and butchery was my last chance to make something of my life.

“Three of my siblings have gone to university, but I chose butchery and it was the best decision of my life.”

Arwyn Watkins, OBE, CAW president and Cambrian Training Company’s executive chairman, said: “The Welsh Craft Butcher of the Year competition provides the perfect platform for the best butchers in Wales of all ages to showcase their skills.

“It’s a huge honour to be named the best in Wales at your chosen vocation and this will be a chance to watch highly skilled butchers demonstrating their skills and meat display techniques.”

Organised by the CAW, the 2024 WICC will also be holding National and Junior Chef of Wales, Green Chef of the Year and a wide range of WICC skills classes as well as hosting the Skills Competition Wales hospitality finals.

Entries for all WICC classes – https://www.culinaryassociation.wales/welsh-international -culinary-championships-2024 – close on Monday January 15, 2024.

There will be the unique opportunity for some lucky WICC visitors to try the menus from the different competitions, on a first come first served basis, by booking tickets via [email protected] .

Climax of the three days of competitions is a black-tie Industry Awards Dinner on the evening of Wednesday, January 24, which will showcase the best Welsh food and drink. Tickets are now on sale for the dinner via [email protected] costing £1,000 for tables of 12 or £100 for individuals.

The WICC’s headline sponsors are the Welsh Government, Castell Howell, Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales, ICC Wales, Cambrian Training Company, Kentaur, Churchill, MCS Technical Products, Roller Grill, Radnor Hills, Dick Knifes, Cygnet Gin, Capital Cuisine and Ecolab.

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