Dromore’s James Gracey has emerged highly commended from this year’s Premier Young Butcher title race.
James, of Quail’s Fine Foods, was one of the UK’s eight best 18-23 year-old butchers to test their skills at Foodex at the Birmingham NEC last Tuesday.
The five-hour, six-category event has been hailed the most demanding skills competition open to UK butchery apprentices, who demonstrated their skills with seam butchery and creating displays of Ready-to-Eat, Stuffed Roast, Barbecue and Kitchen-Ready products.
The competitors were assessed for craft skill, innovation and sound working practices by industry experts Danny Upson of Dalziel, AHDB Pork Product Manager, CEO of the Institute of Meat and International Butchery Judge Keith Fisher and UK National Team Coach, industry consultant and RAPS (UK) representative Viv Harvey. James (20) is a Southern Regional College Level Three Food Industry Skills apprentice who, after just two years in the trade, has Level Two Butchery and Hygiene while currently studying Level Four Health and Hygiene.
He was highly commended in the Kitchen-Ready category.
The title of the nation’s best young butcher went to another James - 18-year-old James Henshaw of Taylor’s Farm Shop in Lathom, Lancashire - the youngest competitor - who bested his seven rivals in the finals of the competition organised by the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders.
He won three of the six categories - Ready-to-Eat, Barbecue and Display - as well as being highly commended for seam butchery.
Runner-up was 20-year-old Butchery World Skills 2015 Bronze Medallist Dylan Gillespie, working at Clogher Valley Meats in Co Tyrone; he won Kitchen-Ready and was highly commended in the Stuffed Roast categories.