Butchers from NI and Ireland named as best butchery team in the world at World Butchers’ Challenge

In a contest to see who would be crowned as the world’s top butchers, Team Ireland, with butchers from Northern Ireland and Ireland competing, have been named the best in the world at the 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge.

Following an outstanding display of butchery skills and creativity, the home nation, Team Ireland, was announced at a Gala event in Titanic Belfast on Wednesday 21st March 2018.

Team Ireland competed in a visually impressive cutting showdown against teams from eleven other nations: Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and USA.

Narrowly defeated were runners-up Pure South Sharp Blacks from New Zealand followed by the Australian Steelers from Australia.

Each team of six had just three hours and fifteen minutes to turn a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb and five chickens into a themed display of value-added cuts, similar of what you would expect in a traditional butcher shop or supermarket but with plenty of innovation and skill at the heart of the displays.

 Team Captain, Garrett Landers from Garrett’s Butchers in Limerick says this win will add to Ireland and Northern Ireland’s reputation for the quality of its meat and craftsmanship, delivering additional promotion for the entire Island of Ireland on the global stage.

“We have been training for the World Butchers’ Challenge for almost 18 months, and to win on our first attempt is just incredible. The standard from the other countries was first-class, and we’re are beyond delighted to have won the award, here in Belfast – the first time that the World Butchers’ Challenge has ever been held here,” comments Garrett Landers, Team Captain, Ireland.

 Vice-Captain, Ian McKernaghan from Lisdergan Meats in Fintona adds: “What an incredible achievement to be named as the Best Butchery team in the world. The team and I are so honoured to have represented Ireland and Northern Ireland in this international event, and we’re hoping that this accolade will help to spread the word of the world-class quality of Irish and Northern Irish produce across the globe.”

 Head Judge, Todd Heller from New Zealand, explains: “The results from the top five ranked teams were extremely close and the standard overall was exceptional. We are thrilled to have grown the World Butchers’ Challenge to 12 teams this year from four in 2016 and are focused on building an even greater World Butchers’ Challenge in 2020.”

Prior to the main event, the World Champion Young Butcher and Apprentice competition was also held with Thomas Guyomar from France taking out the title of World Champion Young Butcher and Samantha Weller from New Zealand announced as the World Champion Butcher Apprentice.

Six butchers from all of the teams were named as the World Team. These are Eamon Etherson from Ireland (Portrush), Angel Naidener from Bulgaria, Adam Stratton from Australia, Corey Winder from New Zealand, Francesca Camassa, Italy and Phillipe Lalanda from France.

The World Butchers’ Challenge aims to showcase skill and innovation in the butchery trade and as such a number of other accolades were awarded this evening:

  • Best Pork Product: Ireland
  • Best Lamb Product: France
  • Best Beef Product: Great Britain
  • Best Poultry Product: New Zealand
  • Best Beef Sausage: Ireland
  • Best Pork Sausage: Australia
  • Best Gourmet Sausage: Australia
  • Best Burger: Greece
  • Best Hygiene/Health & Safety Award: Australia

 The World Butchers’ Challenge took place at Meat@IFEX, the sister show to IFEX – Northern Ireland’s premier event for the food, drink, retail and hospitality industries. Taking place from 20th – 22nd March 2018 at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, IFEX has been attended by thousands of visitors, with the event returning to Belfast in 2020.

This is the first year that the World Butchers’ Challenge has taken place in Belfast, attracting hundreds of international visitors to the event. Prior to the World Butchers’ Challenge, a delegation of 150 international visitors were welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, visited CAFRE, Loughry Campus, and sought out inspiration from some of Northern Ireland’s best butcher shops.

Team Ireland: (l-r, front row) Pamela Ballantine, Event MC; WBC Co-ordinator, Sean Owens; Garret Landers, Team Ireland Captain; Rhonda Montgomery, WBC Country Co-Ordinator and CEO of Butchery Excellence International; and Denis McMahon, Permanent Secretary at Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs. (l-r, back row) Ian McKernaghan, Vice-Captain; Mark Williams; Liam Walsh, WBC mentor; Eamon Etherson; Colly Donnelly; Stephen Cooke and Stephen Millar.