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Countdown’s Champion Apprentice Butcher of the Year

Countdown’s Champion Apprentice Butcher of the Year

Friday, 11 September 2015: Countdown’s apprentice butcher, Hohepa Smith, has been named Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year at Auckland’s Shed 10.

The Awards, which have been held for the past 20 years, are run by Retail Meat New Zealand to find the most skilled butchers in the country.

Along with the champion title, Smith has won a $10,000 scholarship to be part of an international study tour of his choice, where he will add to his winning knife skills from world leading experts.

Hohepa Smith is thrilled with the result of his performance yesterday.

“It feels unreal that I’ve won, it’s been such a great journey and I couldn’t have done it without the support and mentoring from Riki Kerekere, Countdown’s Meat and Livestock Plant Manager, and the incredible team at Countdown,” says Smith.

Hohepa started as a knife hand in 2005 at Countdown's meat plant in Otahuhu, before he applied for Countdown’s butchery apprenticeship programme.

Countdown’s Acting Managing Director, Pat McEntee, says the company is proud of Hohepa’s achievement.

“Countdown has 18,000 team members, and Hohepa’s win is a testament to the great talent we are lucky to have. I wish Hohepa all the best for his career with us,” says McEntee.

Smith was tested on his practical skills during a cutting test, followed by an exam on his knowledge of the trade and interviewed by a panel of three judges. Contestants also had to prepare a “mystery cut” of lamb shoulder into a final garnished product.

Smith beat out finalists from four regions in New Zealand, and an Australian apprentice invited to compete in the grand finals, to be named best in the country.

Countdown was also declared the Supreme Brand Champion at the 2015 Steak of Origin awards in May this year, for the winning Countdown Angus Beef.


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