The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Battle-hardend Sharp Blacks return for World Butchers’ Challenge

Battle-hardend Sharp Blacks return for World Butchers’ Challenge

Six of the country’s finest butchers have been named to form New Zealand’s national butchery team – the Hellers Sharp Blacks, – and will compete at the World Butchers’ Challenge scheduled for Paris in March 2025.

The team, who secured the bronze medal at the last World Butchers’ Challenge in 2022, has a similar feel with Riki Kerekere once again named as team captain, along with returning members Reuben Sharples from Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Dan Klink from Mangawhai Meat Shop, Corey White from Skills4Work, Luka Young from PAK’nSAVE Kaitaia, and Cherise Redden from PAK’nSAVE Glen Innes.

There will be new blood in the team with Samantha Weller from New World Ravenswood joining the team as a reserve. Samantha comes with winning form, having taken out the title of World Champion Butcher Apprentice at the competition in 2018.

Kerekere says, “It was a difficult selection process as we were spoilt for choice with a long list of incredible applicants. Ultimately, the selection committee has stuck with the same team with the exciting addition of Samantha as our reserve. We’re battle-hardened from the last competition and we know what we need to do as a team to get from third to first. Make no mistake, we’re there to win and we’ll be preparing accordingly.”

The team announcement comes one year after the Hellers Sharp Blacks proudly secured the bronze medal in last year’s competition in Sacramento, USA.

Dubbed by many as the ‘Olympics of Meat’, the ninth World Butchers’ Challenge will fittingly take place at Paris Arena Sud 6, part of the impressive Paris Expo Exhibition Centre, currently preparing to welcome the world’s best handball and weightlifting athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The 2025 World Butchers’ Challenge is expected to grow to 18 competing teams, up from the 13 nations represented in Sacramento last year. Each national team of six members will have three hours and thirty minutes to artistically craft a themed display of value-added cuts, using a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb, and five chickens.

The Hellers Sharp Blacks squad is made up of the following members:

Riki Kerekere (Team Captain, Product Developer) – Hellers, Auckland

Reuben Sharples (Boning and Trimming) – Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland

Dan Klink (Boning and Trimming) – Mangawhai Meat Shop, Northland

Corey White (Product Developer) – Skills4Work, Auckland

Luka Young (Product Developer) – PAK’nSAVE Kaitaia, Northland

Cherise Redden (Garnish and Display) – PAK’nSAVE Glen Innes, Auckland

Samantha Weller (Reserve) – New World Ravenswood, Christchurch

The Hellers Sharp Blacks are sponsored by Hellers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, New Zealand Pork, Victory Knives and Rum and Que.

Also travelling to compete at the World Champion Butcher Apprentice and Young Butcher in 2025 and represent New Zealand on the world stage will be the ANZCO Foods Young Butchers of New Zealand.

Current squad members include:

Brad Gillespie, New World Rototuna – Young Butcher
Rhys Tamanui, Waipawa Butchery – Butcher Apprentice
James Smith, The Tattooed Butcher – Young Butcher
Morgan Moore, New World Motueka – Butcher Apprentice

The full squad will be announced following the next year’s Pact Packaging Young Butcher & ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year competition – New Zealand’s domestic competitions – in August 2024, with the winners joining those already confirmed to be on plane in 2025.

The ANZCO Foods Young Butchers of New Zealand are sponsored by ANZCO Foods, Victory Knives, Rum and Que and Active Refrigeration.

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