Champion butcher retains title
Published:  05 December, 2008

Butchery champion Gareth Cole successfully defended his title as the most creative young butcher in Wales at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair at Builth Wells this week.

Gareth, 20, who works in the family business, Paul Cole Family Butchers, on Neath Market, proved a cut above the rest for the second year, as he gave two rivals the chop in the final of the Creative Skills Welsh Young Butcher competition.

Runner up was Jason White, 19, from Gary Jones Butchers, Tregaron and third was Daniel Mann, 18, from Ricky Lloyd Butchers, Welshpool. Apart from the prestige of retaining his title, Gareth received £200 prize money and a trophy, while Jason collected £100 and Daniel £50.

The competition, organised by Welshpool-based award-winning training provider Cambrian Training Company, is co-sponsored by Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales and Celtic Pride.

In the final, the three butchers were set the task of presenting a range of oven-ready cuts from a forequarter of quality Celtic Pride branded Welsh Beef for the retail market.

Judges focused on cutting and display techniques, creativity based on sound retail management principles, eye appeal, consumer-friendly products, HACCP and personal hygiene, cooking knowledge and recipe ideas.

"It's brilliant to have retained my title," said Gareth. "I shall definitely be back next year to defend it again. We had one-and-a-quarter hours to produce oven-ready cuts, so it was a matter of head down and get on with it.

"I had planned what I was going to do and I managed to produce 12 cuts, although there was one more that I didn't quite get round to."

Cambrian Training Company's managing director Arwyn Watkins said: "This competition is investing in the future of an industry that is desperate for home-grown talent.

"It's important that we continue to provide these opportunities for young people to demonstrate and learn skills that they can take back to their place of work."

Graham Titchener, of Hybu Cig Cymru, said: "By supporting this competition, we are encouraging our young butchers to be creative and innovative in their standard of butchery, product ranges and presentation skills, which will help ensure that we retain a vibrant network of independent butchers here in Wales for the foreseeable future."

Gareth Evans, Celtic Pride's general manager, said: "I wish there were more competitions of this type to encourage more young people to enter the industry."