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Thursday 26 April 2018

Ireland's butcher triumph 'great for entire industry'

Garrett Landers with wife Fiona and children Paraic, 7, and Michael, 10 at the World Butchers' Challenge Gala event
Garrett Landers with wife Fiona and children Paraic, 7, and Michael, 10 at the World Butchers' Challenge Gala event

Claire Fox

Irish butchers proved they were a cut above international competition recently when they were crowned overall winners at the World Butcher Challenge in Belfast.

The team of six made history as not only was it their first win in the esteemed competition, it was their first time taking part.

Team Ireland consisted of captain Garrett Landers, vice-captain Ian McKernaghan, Stephen Cooke, Colly Donnelly, Eamon Etherson, Stephen Millar and reserve Mark Williams.

Team Ireland competed in an impressive cutting showdown against teams from 11 other nations - Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, UK, Germany, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and USA.

Each team of six had three hours and 15 minutes to turn a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb and five chickens into a themed display of value-added cuts, similar of what you would expect in a traditional butcher shop or supermarket but with plenty of innovation and skill at the heart of the displays.

Captain Garrett returned home 12 years ago from Australia to open Garrett's Butchers in Dooradoyle and Castletroy in Limerick. Having worked all over the world learning his craft, he knew his side would face stiff competition from international teams but was confident in his team's ability.

"I've worked in Australia and New Zealand and the US, so I knew we were up against the best butchers in the world. After Christmas we started meeting up every Sunday to train. I was confident in our ability but not cocky," says Garrett.

"It's not easy when you're working with a team of butchers who've never worked together, so it takes a while to get the dynamic right, and some people don't like the pressure of performance and prefer working at their own pace. But around February I knew we had a chance."

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Garrett says the team are already looking toward the next World Butcher Challenge.

"We were delighted with this win and would love to give it another go. We made history this time around by winning it on our first go, which is almost unheard of. We'd love to come back and see how we can improve on our performance even more," adds Garrett.

While Garrett admits that owning and running butcher shops is challenging in 2018, he feels this international title will give Irish butcher shops an even better reputation.

"We have the best butcher shops in the world," he says. "We make a connection with customers. We can change a product - unlike supermarkets where items are pre packed.

"Butchers have pride in their products and want the best for customers. This win is great for the entire industry."

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