Stafford butcher Stefan is cut above the rest
A Stafford butcher has said he is “absolutely thrilled and flabbergasted” after proving he is a cut above in the final of the Butchery WorldSkills UK Competition last month.
Stefan Rice, aged 35, who lives in Cannock and works for A. Hindle and Son in Stafford, edged out five rival butchers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to take the coveted title at WorldSkills UK LIVE, held at the NEC in Birmingham between November 21 and 23.
The finalists completed five tasks over two days of the event in front of a live audience, which tested their skills to the limit.
The final challenge proved to be extremely tough - the butchers were each given a top and rump of beef and they had one hour to bone and trim it, one hour to seam the meat and one hour to make and display products.
“I didn’t think it was going to be my name called out, but it was absolutely fantastic and overwhelming when I was announced as the winner,” said Stefan. “I’m absolutely thrilled and flabbergasted to have won. I have had a great response from my customers who have congratulated me and given me cards. I’m still pinching myself.
“It was a very tough competition because there was a lot of talent in the final and a lot of good products. The finalists were a lovely group of people and I will happily stay in touch with them to share ideas and recipes.”
Runner-up with a silver medal was Liam Lewis, 31, from Winsford, and third was Jason Edwards, 25, from Lower Stretton, near Warrington. The other finalists were Craig Holly, 30, from Pontypool; Elizabeth James, 17, from Stoke-on-Trent and Codie-Jo Carr, 17, from Banbridge, Northern Ireland.
The butchery competition is organised by award-winning Welshpool-based training provider Cambrian Training and supported by an Industry Steering Group. Chris Jones, head of Cambrian Training’s food and drink business unit, said it was a very close and skilful final with little to choose between the butchers.
“Stefan was a bit more in control throughout the competition than the other finalists,” he added. “It was a strong, close competition where precision and consistency counted.”
To enter next year’s competition, butchers must possess good knife and primary and secondary butchery skills, including seam butchery, with a minimum of six months' practical experience, good tying and stringing skills, sausage making experience and the ability to work under pressure in front of an audience.
Butchers wishing to become the UK’s best butcher for 2020 may register at www.worldskillsuk.org
Butchery was one of more than 60 skills featured in WorldSkills UK LIVE in Birmingham.
The competitions are designed by industry experts and focus on the highest UK and international standards.