Welsh butcher steaks out future in the United States

Award-winning butcher Peter Rushforth has made the journey to the United States in search of international specialist skills. 

Rushforth (pictured left with HCC head of operations Prys Morgan), of Swan’s Farm Shop near Mold, received the opportunity to go to the US after being awarded with a Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Scholarship. The funding is allowing him to spend a month across the pond where he will be studying the ins and outs of the beef industry.

At only 21, the young butcher was last year named the WorldSkills UK champion, Meat Trades Journal’s Young Butcher of the Year 2016 and has previously been crowned HCC’s Welsh Young Butcher Champion 2014 and 2015.

He will start his journey at the Meat Animal Research Centre at Nebraska University before heading to Portland, Oregon where he will spend time with charcuterie specialists Olympia Provisions and Tails & Trotters.

His adventure will be rounded of by visiting Gary West Meats in Jacksonville, Oregon, followed by the farm-to-restaurant setup at Belcampo Meats in Santa Monica, California.

“I am interested in both adding value to the forequarter – finding alternatives to the traditional mince usage – and also looking to diversify into cooked and cured meats alongside our premium fresh Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef products,” explained Rushforth.

During his visit, he aims to explore recent trends in the US industry and how these can be used to develop a wider range of forequarter steaks back in his home shop. “Possibly the best known of these alternative steak cuts is the Flat Iron, which comes from the shoulder blade,” he said. “It has more marbling than sirloin which means it needs to be carefully cut and then cooked appropriately – but it tastes great and is half the cost of sirloin.

“A good butcher can add £300 to a beef carcase by maximising the quality cuts and minimising waste. By utilising these American-style cuts I can add a further 20-30% to the forequarter, bringing better returns to the whole supply chain.”

Upon his return, on 6 March, he will present a full report of his findings to HCC and subsequently hold a number of talks throughout the year where he will pass on his experiences to other industry professionals. To top it off, he will join the exclusive HCC past Scholars club.

“The HCC Scholarship Association now includes 49 people who have visited countries across the world,” added James Ruggeri, HCC’s industry development executive. “They have brought back a wealth of experience which is being shared with their peers in Wales.”

National Butchers' Week runs from 13-19 March this year. We are running a product innovation contest. Tell us something you are proud of from your repertoire - either the recipe for a finished dish or an added value product on your counter, with serving suggestion. We will cover a selection online and the overall winner. For more information, or to submit an entry, please contact Aidan.Fortune@wrbm.com.
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