UK butchers place well in European contest

Two UK butchers celebrated international success after representing England last weekend at the European Butchery Trophy in Lyon, France.

Martin Crombie and Michael Perkins of Aubrey Allen butcher’s, Meat Trades Journal’s Butcher’s Shop of the Year winner in 2012, came fourth in the gruelling four-hour competition.

The duo from Warwickshire came close behind the winning team from Switzerland, two French teams and took away a prize of €600 as well as the prestige of being ahead of four other European entries, including Ireland and Belgium.

Aubrey Allen managing director Russell Allen arranged for the team to be at the competition, which is the second time the UK has entered. He told “For us to come over and show our skills is a great thing – not least because to the French there is a perception about the UK that we have no idea about culture and food, but this proves that wrong.”

Of the event and being involved in the competition, Allen explained that it was a terrific honour for Aubrey Allen to represent England. He said: “Both Martin and Michael performed brilliantly under enormous pressure. It is a fantastic achievement to come fourth and is a real fillip to our customers, as well as everyone who works at our Leamington Spa shop and Coventry operation, to know that we are one of the best butchers in Europe.”

General manager of AHDB Meat Services in Paris Rémi Fourrier arranged sponsorship for the UK team through Eblex and AHDB France. He told that it was a great honour to have a UK team compete. He said: “Here in France, technical butchery is extremely strong and they [French butchers] have their own way of doing things, so it’s a learning curve for foreigners. The level of sophistication of the work that goes into these competitions is high, and the UK team did a great job.”

In a four-hour time-frame, both Crombie and Perkins had to work together to butcher half a lamb; a veal rack; forequarter and flank; as well as a beef rump on the bone, which was all to be done in the theme of ‘Meat in a Decorative Setting’. The pair had to prepare and present a series of specific cuts, in addition to bringing a cooked sample of a five-rib rack of veal for the judges to taste.

Judges marking the cuts included master butchers, as well as several ‘Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’”, who are honoured craftsmen in the country. The cuts were marked on overall creativity and decorative presentation, along with commercial factors and profitability values.   
Allen added: “Having won the national Butcher’s Shop of the Year title at the end of last year, it was a terrific opportunity to showcase the best skills in the UK with our European counterparts. It was also the first time we had been asked to take part in the competition and the whole experience has been extremely beneficial. Our goal for the next competition would be for England to finish in the top three.”


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