Here Come the Sharp Blacks: NZ Butchery Team Announced
Here Come the Sharp Blacks: NZ Butchery Team Announced
New Zealand’s butchery team – The Sharp Blacks – has been announced as they kick off their journey to the 2020 World Butchers’ Challenge (WBC) in Sacramento, California. The seven-man team, which includes one reserve, is made up of the best butchers from across the country and preparation will now start in earnest as they plan for the ‘Olympics of Butchery’ in September 2020.
The Sharp Blacks squad is
made up of the following members;
• Corey Winder (Team Captain, Product Developer) – Elite Meats Bush Inn, Christchurch
• Jeremy Garth (Product Developer) – New World Ferry Road, Christchurch
• David Timbs (Product Developer) – Peter Timbs Meats, Christchurch
• Riki Kerekere (Breaking & Boning) – Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland
• Reuben Sharples (Breaking & Boning) – Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland
• James Smith (Garnishing & Display) – PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe, Auckland
• Luka Young (reserve) – New World Eastridge, Auckland
The Sharp Blacks have a strong track record at the WBC (and its previous incarnations) with three victories as well as taking out second-place earlier this year in Belfast, Northern Ireland, losing only to the home team.
Team Captain, Corey Winder, who has led the team since its inception in 2011, is an instrumental figure in the retail meat industry and has been the driving force behind the team’s success over the years. He said of the team’s selection: “We were incredibly lucky to have an excess of enthusiastic butchers to select from. The applications were really strong and we had an incredibly tough job deciding who made the squad.
“Any one of the applicants would have deserved a seat on the plane to Sacramento, so we’ve had the luxury of picking a balanced team that suits the various roles required and I believe we are going with one of our strongest squads yet.”
The World Butchers’ Challenge, a biennial event which started out as a Trans-Tasman Test Match in 2011, will head to the iconic Golden 1 Center in the Californian city of Sacramento after a tough and rigorous bidding process which included proposals from Paris, France and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Once there, sixteen international teams will be tasked with slicing up a side of beef (half a carcass), a side of pork (half a carcass), a whole lamb and five chickens to produce a themed display of value-added products in the pressure-inducing time of just three hours and fifteen minutes.
A global panel of judges will then score each display based on strict criteria that includes; knife skills, hygiene, safety, consistency, time management, cookability & saleability as well as style, visual impact and innovation of the display.
Kiwi Rod Slater, WBC Founder and Chairman of the Organising Committee, is credited with coming up with the original concept of the Trans-Tasman Test Match. Alongside Ashley Gray, World Butchers’ Challenge CEO, they have driven, in just a few years, what was a fun, industry-focused event into an international phenomenon attracting world-wide media coverage, record sponsorship as well as a parody music video battle where teams recreate iconic songs with butchery themed lyrics.
Slater said of the exponential success: “When I came up with the concept over a glass of whisky with an Aussie colleague, I never thought it would grow into what it is today. It just goes to show that the international butchery trade is not just alive and kicking, it’s truly flourishing.
“In relation to our own Sharp Blacks, I am so proud of the success they have achieved and the consistency of their performances. Corey has led this team with a grounded determination you’d expect of any Kiwi sports team. Whilst I am supposed to appear neutral in my support, I can’t help but smile when I see them perform so well and wish them all the best in their preparations for Sacramento.”
To get a good idea of what it’s all about, watch the TVNZ On Demand series Knives Out which documented the Sharp Black’s journey to Belfast earlier this year.
Corey Winder (Elite Meats Bush Inn, Christchurch) – Team Captain, Product Developer
A legend of the New Zealand retail meat scene, Corey is often described as the Richie McCaw of butchery. Captaining the Sharp Blacks since their inception in 2011, Corey is the glue that holds the team together. The ultimate team player, he puts in the hours of practise and preparation required taking him away from his own business and family. With three victories and a second place on his record, the Sharp Blacks will be in excellent hands come September 2020.
Jeremy Garth (New World Ferry Road, Christchurch) – Product Developer
Hailing from Christchurch, Jeremy is another familiar face from the Alto Young Butcher competitions having won his regional competitions, Jeremy has travelled to the Grand Final in Auckland three times, and was even runner up in the national competition in 2014.
Jeremy was also a member of the South Island team in the North vs South challenge in both 2014 and 2015. Working with Captain Corey Winder in the past, Jeremy has been able to learn from the best and was part of the Sharp Blacks team that finished second in Belfast earlier this year.
Riki Kerekere (Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland) – Breaking & Boning
Riki is the heart and soul of Countdown’s central processing plant in Otahuhu, overseeing a 450-strong team that supply every Countdown Store in the North Island with meat products seven days a week. A poacher turned gamekeeper, Riki was the New Zealand judge at the 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge in Belfast, but made the decision to apply for the team following his success in the 2018 Alto Butcher of the Year competition earlier this year taking out the top title.
Reuben Sharples (Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland) – Breaking & Boning
Reuben is a stalwart of the butchery competition scene, having taken out the title of Alto Butcher of the Year in 2017 and competing in Butcher Wars at Meatstock. A media darling and housewives’ favourite, Reuben is the owner of the Aussie Butcher in New Lynn. His team have won numerous awards for their sausages and hams and Reuben will be bring a wealth of experience to the team.
David Timbs (Peter Timbs Meats, Christchurch) – Product Developer
David cut his teeth in the butchery world under the guidance and tutelage of his uncle, Peter Timbs himself. Fast-forward to the present and his role has reversed, overseeing all the training and practical skills taught to the company’s latest crop of apprentices. Having been a Sharp Black in the past, David will bring an essential understanding to the team.
James Smith (PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe, Auckland) – Garnishing and Display
James may happen to be one of the younger members of the team but he’s managed to pack an incredible amount experience in to his eight years as a butcher. Now running the show in the PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe butchery department, James goes out of his way to further himself and develop his skill set often seeking experience with other top butchers and chefs. A self-confessed foodie, it will be James’ flourish and panache that will put the finishing touches to the products before the face adjudication from the judges.
Luka Young (New World Eastridge, Auckland) - Reserve
Luka is no stranger to success at the World Butchers’ Challenge have being part of the Young Butchers of New Zealand Squad in Belfast, taking third spot in the World Champion Young Butcher Competition. Hailing from the New World Eastridge which has previous form for producing Sharp Blacks, Luka’s role will be invaluable. He will be turning up to all the practices and will need to be ready to step up at a moment’s notice should someone need to drop out.
Breaking & Boning: working with the carcass, they break it down into the primal cuts which are then passed to the Product Developers. The Breaker & Boner is the engine room of the team and it’s vital they are speedy, yet accurate and efficient, with minimal waste.
Product Developer: the three team members in this role are responsible for taking the primal cuts from the Breaker & Boners and turning them into products you would expect to see in a retail meat display.
Garnishing & Display: this is the creative and final end of the process. This team member is responsible for taking the value-added products and giving them the final dressing i.e. the X Factor.
World Butchers’ Challenge
In 2011, a butchery competition between New Zealand and Australia, named the Trans-Tasman Test Match, was established. The Test Match was a joint initiative between the two nations to showcase the trade and skills of our butchers. Both countries nominated a team of their six best butchers, the Sharp Blacks and the Australian Steelers, and each were given two hours to break down a side of beef and a lamb into a themed display of value-added cuts.
The inaugural competition was held at Terrace Downs in Christchurch, New Zealand, with the Australian team taking home the first title. The following year, the competition moved to Melbourne, Australia, with the host country once again taking home the title of the best butchers in Australasia.
In 2013, a team of six from the United Kingdom made the long journey across the globe to Wanaka, New Zealand, to compete in the newly-titled Tri-Nation's Butchers' Challenge. It was this year which marked the beginning of a winning streak for the Sharp Blacks, as they were presented with their first trophy on home soil. 2014 saw New Zealand and Australia travel to Yorkshire, England, where they were enthusiastically welcomed by the British Beefeaters who were competing for their second time. The Sharp Blacks duly delivered, starting a trend of Kiwi sports teams winning competitions on British soil that would continue for the next 12 months!
The following year, the competition made its way back to our shores and was held in Auckland, New Zealand. A side of pork was also added to the list of cuts the teams were to break down. This competition, which was held in association with other industry events, was the biggest retail meat event to ever be held in New Zealand, and as the Sharp Blacks lifted the trophy for their third consecutive time, it proved to be a successful year once more.
Newcomers, France, stepped up to the plate in the 2016 competition, held in the Gold Coast, Australia where it was renamed once more to the World Butchers’ Challenge. France, in their first year competing, took out the prestigious title with their innovative products and style.
In 2018, the WBC got even bigger! International heavyweights signed up, including Greece, USA and Italy and twelve talented and passionate countries from around the globe competed for the title in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
For more information about the challenge visit - https://www.worldbutcherschallenge.com/
The Sharp Blacks
The Sharp Blacks are New Zealand’s national butchery team and were established in 2011, competing in the very original version of the World Butchers’ Challenge; the Trans-Tasman Test Match against Australia.