Butchers keen to carve up rivals
Two butchers are sharpening their knives ready to do battle in a tri-nations competition.
Phill Pirie and Peter Martin are part of the national butchery team the Pure South Sharp Blacks which will take on the best from England and Australia at the 2014 Butchery Tri-Nations on July 10.
Pirie, of Mt Eden, is one of only two newcomers to make the final team.
"Every year this team is made up of the very best New Zealand can provide.
"It's pretty cut-throat but that's what keeps the competition and the industry alive," Pirie says.
"To compete at this level and represent your country is very humbling."
The team will travel to Yorkshire, England, on June 30 for the contest.
Pirie actually hails from Yorkshire himself but has no qualms about representing his adopted country on his home turf.
"What a turncoat, eh? But home is where the heart is for me and that's here in New Zealand.
"If Irene van Dyk can do it for netball and rugby players can do it, then why can't butchers?"
Onehunga butcher Peter Martin is an old hand, having joined the team when it began four years ago.
Each squad has two hours to process a side of beef, a whole lamb and produce a top quality butchery display.
The Kiwis had their final practice session on June 8.
Martin says New Zealand lost out to teams from across the ditch for the first two years, making them all the more motivated to bring home the title last year.
"As a group of quite different individuals what we end up producing is quite cool," he says.
"When the concept of this competition was first given to me I saw it as a huge opportunity to showcase how skilful we are in this industry."
It is more about culinary art than carcasses, Pirie says.
"New Zealand currently holds the shield so we're going over there to win, we're not going over there for a holiday."
Pirie has used everything from dry ice to liquid smoke at past competitions to fashion meaty creations in the style of experimental chef Heston Blumenthal.
The standard of competition improves each year but Pirie and Martin reckon New Zealand has a good shot at defending the title.