Who will be the top of the chops as four butchers contest Wales final?

Four butchers are sharpening their knives in preparation for a contest next week to find the best in Wales at their craft.

The finalists of the Welsh Butcher of the Year contest, which will be held at the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Rhos-on-Sea campus on February 21, have been announced today.

Seeking to be a cut above the rest and top of the chops are Mark Wolsey of Prendergast Butchers, Haverfordwest, Cori Mears of Douglas Willis, Cwmbran, Adam Jones of Swans Farm Shop, Treuddyn, near Mold and Marinov Elenko of 2 Sisters Food Group, Sandycroft.

Sponsored by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) and Cambrian Training Company, the contest is open to Welsh butchers over the age of 16 who are employed or studying for a qualification in a college or establishment anywhere in the world.

The finalists will be set two tasks to showcase their skills to judges from the Craft Butchery Team Wales, who finished sixth on debut at the World Butchers’ Challenge in the USA last year.

They will have 55 minutes to seam a leg and chump of pork into individual muscles and another hour to turn the meat into a visually exciting display of products that celebrates a special occasion of the butcher’s own choice.

The judges will be looking for technical skills, innovation, creativity and a detailed description of each product created, together with cooking instructions.

The competition could be a stepping stone to the Craft Butchery Team Wales, which includes five former Welsh Butcher of the Year or Welsh Young Butcher of the Year winners – captain Peter Rushforth, Matthew Edwards, Tom Jones, Dan Allen-Raftery and Craig Holly.

Apart from the kudos of being named Wales’ best butcher, the winner will receive £100, the runner up £60 and third place £40.

Arwyn Watkins, OBE, CAW president, said: “We have decided to bring the Wales culinary and butchery competitions together for the first time at the WICC. This event provides the perfect platform for butchers from across Wales of all ages to showcase their skills.

“It’s a huge honour to be named the best in Wales at your chosen vocation and this will be a chance to watch highly skilled butchers demonstrating their skills and meat display techniques.”

Organised by the CAW, the WICC’s main sponsor is Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Government’s department representing the food and drink industry. Other sponsors include Castel Howell, Churchill, Major International, Riso Gallo, Dick Knives, MCS Tech Products, Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales, Cambrian Training Company and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.