A team of six crack independent retail butchers has been selected to represent Australia in a Tri-Nations Butchery Competition to be held in the UK in July.
As highlighted on Beef Central yesterday (click here to view original article), the Australian team has been selected and managed under MLA’s Butcher’s Guild program, previously known as the Red Meat Networking Club.
Beef Central profiled Adam Stratton, the first of the Australian team members yesterday. Today’s article features the team’s two youngest members, Matthew Papandrea and Tom Bouchier, 22 and 21, respectively….
Matthew Papandrea, Joe Papandrea Quality Meats, NSW
He may only be 22, but Sydney’s Matthew Papandrea already has years of experience in the retail meat industry under his butcher’s apron.
A former Australian Meat Industry Council Apprentice of the Year, Matthew has notched up plenty of wins at regional and national butchery competitions.
Matthew is following in his father’s footsteps as a butcher in south-west Sydney. After helping at his father’s Bossley Park shop, Joe Papandrea Quality Meats, when he was younger, he decided to complete a Meat Retailing Certificate III at Granville TAFE. He finished in 2013 and now works at the family’s second retail butchery at Wetherill Park, Sydney.
Matthew is no stranger to competition butchery – he notched up wins at TAFE challenges as well as in the WorldSkills Competition at regional and national level.
As a result of his performance in the 2012 WorldSkills Australia national competition, Matthew was awarded a place in the BBM Skilled Futures Program, which included an international scholarship. He travelled to the UK, Denmark and Germany in 2013, gaining experience in butcher shops and participating in a leadership program.
He said he was looking forward to testing his butchery skills on the world stage, as one of the two younger team-members selected to represent Australia in the 2014 Tri-Nations Butchery Competition.
“Butchery competitions require a lot of preparation,” he said. “I spent more than six months preparing for the National World Skills competition, developing recipes, practicing knife skills, displaying products, and working on my presentation and public speaking.”
Matthew has a passion for creating new products and looks forward to showing off his knife work in the UK challenge.
Given that his father Joe, a career butcher over more than 40 years, is originally from Calabria in southern Italy, it’s perhaps not surprising that there is a strong Italian-influenced presence in the shop windows of the Papandrea stores, carrying traditional cuts like veal scaloppini as well as a wide selection of smallgoods. The shops also carry a lot of South American-style products, like asado (beef ribs) and vacio (flank steak).
“We strive to provide a high level of customer service,” Matthew said. “Our customers generally like to cook meat starting with basic raw ingredients, so we don’t make a lot of products in marinades. We do as much as we can to give our customers what they want, such as cutting meat a specific way if that’s what they ask for.”
Matthew’s future plans include completing his university degree in Business Management as means of enhancing his future in a business retail environment, and to continue learning as much as he can about the industry, so he can one day open his own retail meat outlet.
Tom Bouchier, Peter Bouchier Butchers of Distinction, VIC
Third generation Melbourne butcher Tom Bouchier is one of 14 butchers in his family – so it’s fair to say the trade runs in his blood.
As the youngest tradesman in the six-man 2014 Australian Tri-Nations team, Tom looks forward to learning from his more experienced team-mates, while contributing innovation and passion for high quality meat.
The twenty-one year old grew-up in Melbourne’s south east, starting his apprenticeship with his father, Peter.
Tom finished trade school as dux of his class, and is now based in the Peter G Bouchier Butchers of Distinction store at up-market Toorak.
Tom also works in the family’s Melbourne CDB retail outlet and their smallgoods factory, and has gained experience in boning and trimming at Gundagai Meat Packers. He won the Australian Culinary Challenge as a first-year apprentice in 2010, and was runner-up in the MLA Mystery Box competition as part of the 2011 Sausage King competition.
He also won a gold medal when he represented Victoria in the 2013 Australian Young Butchers Picnic, where he was tested on everything from boning, slicing and preparing products to cooking a restaurant-quality cut.
Beef Central asked Tom what a customer saw when they first walk into the Peter G Bouchier Butchers of Distinction store at Toorak.
“My dad, Peter, has owned the business for 30 years. He re-designed the shop so it is true to its historic butchery roots, but still has cutting-edge design. There is dry-aged beef hanging in the front window of the shop for customers to choose from, a deli section featuring homemade German and Italian small goods, and a vintage Berkel fly wheel slicer to slice them on,” he said.
“Some of our butchers are trained chefs, so there is a selection of prepared products including on-trend cuts. Everything is presented with attention to detail.”
Customers at the Toorak shop are mostly families and young professionals, who are prepared to spend a little more for assured quality.
“Their buying habits change from Monday to Saturday,” Tom said. “At the start of the week we put out a lot of easy-to-cook, quick and simple cuts and meal ideas. Towards the end of the week – especially on Saturday – we feature roasts and barbequing meal ideas. Customers in this area have high standards and won’t buy something if they are not 100pc satisfied, so I think working with this expectation, in this environment, has helped me to become a better butcher.”
“As butchers, we face a challenge from supermarkets, where people shop for convenience and often lower prices. To combat this, butchers have to use their expertise and customer service to give consumers what they want.”
“There is sense of ‘theatre’ walking into a good butcher shop – seeing the butchers making jokes, sharing stories and helping customers with selection. You can't find that between the supermarket shelves.”
Working in the family’s Toorak shop has played a big part in Tom’s competition successes during his apprenticeship years.
“I have learnt how to perform under immense pressure, how to cut well, how to perfect hygiene standards and appearance and also how to tray-up meat for display. I'm also preparing for the UK challenge by making sure every tray I put in the window is of competition standard, so that by the time I get to competition day its natural to make the tray presentation look as good as it possibly can.”
- Tomorrow: Three more Butcher Challenge team-member profiles.