Creative welsh butcher sought

The search is on to find the most creative young butcher in Wales.

The Creative Skills Welsh Young Butcher competition is due to be launched next week at the Royal Welsh Show, in Builth Wells.

The competition, now in its third year, is the brainchild of Welshpool-based award-winning training provider Cambrian Training Company, which is this year joined as co-sponsors by Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales and Celtic Pride.

Defending champion is Gareth Cole, 20, who works for his father, Paul, in the family butcher's business at Neath Market.

Butchers looking to enter must be under the age of 23 on 1 January 2008 and work or study in Wales. In their applications, they are asked to highlight in 250 words some of the benefits of offering premium Welsh Beef to existing and new customers. They must also include proposed cuts, cooking methods, a recipe where appropriate and photographs to demonstrate cuts and presentation techniques.

Four finalists will be selected from their completed application forms, which must be received by Cambrian Training Company by 31 October, and the final will be held at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair on Tuesday, 2 December.

The final four butchers will be set the task of presenting a range of oven-ready cuts of quality Celtic Pride branded Welsh Beef for the retail market.

Judges will focus on cutting and display techniques, creativity based on sound retail management principles, eye appeal, consumer-friendly products, HACCP and personal hygiene, cooking knowledge and recipe ideas.

The winner will receive £200 in prize money and a trophy, the runner-up will collect £100 and the other three other finalists will receive £25 each.

Cambrian Training Company's managing director Arwyn Watkins said: "This competition aims to extend the theme of adding value to locally produced meat through the skills developed by local butchers. Gareth Cole set a very high standard in last year's competition and I'm hoping that the benchmark will be raised again this year."

Gareth Evans, Celtic Pride's general manager, who has helped judge the contest for the last two years, said: "I think this competition is a fantastic way to not only showcase the great skills of talented young Welsh butchers, but also to promote Celtic Pride-branded premium Welsh Beef. I wish there were more competitions of this type to encourage more young people to enter the industry."

Graham Titchener, of Hybu Cig Cymru, said: "Independent butchers collectively command some 16% market share sales of meat and we, at HCC, are eager to do all we can to ensure their survival in the face of ever increasing competition.

"By supporting this competition, we are encouraging our young butchers to be creative and innovative in their standard of butchery, product ranges and presentation skills, which will help ensure that we retain a vibrant network of independent butchers here in Wales for the forseeable future."

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