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Impressive display .. .Samantha Weller's efforts caught the eye of judges. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By ROBYN BRISTOW

A Rangiora butcher has cut her way to the top after a pressure-laden two-hour competition.

Samantha Weller, from PAK’nSAVE Rangiora, won the Alto Young Butcher of the Year title at the Upper South Island regional 2020 competition.

She was up against butchers from across the upper South Island who sharpened their knives and cut their way through a two-hour competition in the regional stages of the 2020 Alto Young Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year competition.

Samantha is no stranger to the competition.

It was the fifth time she entered, and she says there are many positives to competing.

She says it provides young butchers with the chance to learn new skills, meet new people and profile their careers.

“I believe my final display gave me the edge this year – I worked really hard to make it pop,

“I am really looking forward to the grand final now and have a bunch of new ideas for my next display.”

The contestants put their boning, trimming, slicing and dicing skills to the test as they broke down a size 20 chicken, a whole pork leg, and a beef short loin into a display of value-added products.

Blair Wright, from Peter Timbs Meats in Christchurch, claimed first spot in the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year category.

Samantha and Blair will compete in the grand final on November 10 at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland, where they will further showcase their skills, creativity and knowledge of the trade against the best in the country.

Head Judge Peter Martin, who is the butchery manager of Fresh Choice in Cromwell, is a strong advocate of butchery competitions.

“I believe the gains are huge for every entrant who has had to plan, practise and come up with creative ideas in order to compete against their peers today.

“It not only boosts their confidence, but helps to raise the standard in the industry.”

Peter is particularly excited about the new mentorship programme introduced to the competition this year, which has helped guide and support entrants, giving them the confidence to put their best knife forward on the day.

Alongside industry and peer recognition, the winning Alto Young Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year receive a trophy and a study tour.