Introducing Michael Dufton

Returning to the World Butchers’ Challenge for the second year is Michael Dufton of Knitsley Farm Shop in Durham. 

Michael began his career in butchery in 1990 at the age of 15, working after school in a local supermarket. Since his beginnings in the industry, he has honed his skills in both the retail side of butchery and carcase breaking in the abattoir. Always keen to keep his skills up to date, he has been successful in the past few years in a number of competitions. It is this competition experience that he will be bringing with him for the World Butchers’ Challenge 2018.

What inspired you to become a butcher?

Working on a deli at Presto supermarket while at school, I was asked by the butcher on the counter to give him a hand with a few jobs and I loved the challenge presented by butchery and by the knowledge he had. He then offered me a job on the butchery counter just as I was ready to leave school, so I jumped at the chance.

How long have you been butchering for?

About 28 years in total, which is scary to think about!

Who is your butchery idol?

Keith Fisher has always been a great support thoughout the past 10 years, and is extremely knowledgeable about all areas related to the industry.

Have you got a butchery protégé?

Not really, but we have a couple of great young staff who will hopefully make the grade.

Beef, lamb, pork or chicken?

Any and all – I have no preference and love working with all cuts of meat and coming up with new products across the board.

What is your dream goal to achieve in the butchery industry?

I have been very lucky to work for a quality, progressive business for the past nine years, using top-end, home-reared or locally sourced meats, giving me the best base product to work with and the opportunity to achieve many awards both for our own products and the businesses as a whole. My dream is to help the British Beefeaters to win the overall World Butchers’ Challenge title in 2018!

What unique quality are you going to bring to the World Butchers’ Challenge?

I think my experience from being on last year’s team will be invaluable, knowing the pace required, the standard required and also I will have the confidence in my abilities to help the team as a whole.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I would say the proudest moment would be helping the business win Meat Trades Journal’s Farm Shop of the Year at the Butcher’s Shop of the Year Awards in 2013 and again in 2014 – it was a huge achievement to win in consecutive years against strong competition. That, and being on the British Beefeaters team last year in Australia for the World Butchers’ Challenge.

What is your favourite value-added product to make?

That can change weekly, but I would say it would be the Stuffed Pork Tenderloin that we make.

If you weren’t a butcher, what would you be?

A physiotherapist – to save myself a fortune!

What is the most unusual meat you’ve eaten?

I’ve tried crocodile.

What advice would you give to young people wanting to get into the industry?

Get on an apprenticeship, be prepared to learn the craft from the bottom up and continuously improve your own skills and learning.

Who is going to be your biggest competition in the World Butchers’ Competition?

I think the threat could come from one of the European teams, but a lot can happen on the day.

What is the best thing about being a butcher?

Working with great-quality locally sourced produce and getting feedback from customers about the products we create.

Stay up to date with Michael’s progress as he prepares for his second appearance at the World Butchers’ Challenge on Facebook and Twitter.

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