BBQ magazine Autumn 2021
The Georgian buildings of London private members’ club Home House was the unlikely shop window this week for a team of British butchers taking the first step on their quest to become world champions.
The World Butchers’ Challenge, the Olympics of butchery, takes place next September at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings basketball team.
“The journey starts here,” said captain of Team GB Butchery Simon Taylor, as he introduced members of his squad in London ahead of final selection. “But it doesn’t end at the World Butchers’ Challenge. There is an even greater challenge and purpose and that is to encourage more people into the butchery trade, which, like so many elements of the food chain, is facing a huge skills shortage. We are committed to supporting the next generation of butchers and beyond.”
Victory in the United States next year when Team GB will be competing against 15 other nations for the coveted trophy would be a fitting tribute to the quality of butchery in Britain. But the team wants to create a legacy too, attracting young talent and apprentices into the trade and promoting butchery as a career and vocation.
“The lockdowns saw many people reconnecting with their local shops and supply chains, pulling together as communities,” said Taylor, who runs Surrey Hills Butchers.
“There are now around 6,000 butchers in the UK when there used to be 60,000. It is not just about selling great cuts of British meat, but educating customers about food, its nutritional value and crucially provenance and animal welfare, ensuring meat is produced in the most ethical, sustainable way.”
Team GB will also be unveiling a legacy project, aimed at helping young people interact with nature and understand the environment, running and supporting countryside initiatives such as farm walks, bush craft, open-fire cooking, foraging and butchery.
Squad members gathered in the iconic 18th century Marylebone townhouse to showcase their skills - a mix of power and precision, cutting and curating meats. At the Challenge the butchers will have just over three hours to transform sides of beef and pork, a whole lamb and five chickens into a themed display, with judges marking their work at every stage.
“We have so many talented butchers to choose from before the squad is finalised. While everyone is a great all-round butcher, like picking a football team you have specialists in different positions, whether it is breaking the bones, producing the cuts or finishing the themed displays,” Taylor told an audience from across the meat profession and its supply chain, with Team GB looking for partners to support them in their battle for their trade’s biggest prize. BBQ magazine has been announced as the team’s media partner and will be covering the road to Sacramento in print and online, with features and events.
The World Butchers’ Challenge, cancelled last year due to the pandemic, started in 2011 as a ‘Trans-Tasman Test Match’ between New Zealand and Australia. In the last challenge, held in Belfast in 2018, Team GB came fourth, winning best beef product. The event also celebrates new talent with the World Champion Butcher Apprentice and Young Butcher competitions.
“It is going to be a fantastic contest against the best butchers in the world and I am so proud to lead the team. It is not just about competing on technique, skill, workmanship and presentation, but learning and sharing, elevating the butcher’s craft with creativity and innovation,” said Taylor.
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