The Cleaver Awards is an initiative of the South African Red Meat Industry Forum. Conceived in 2005, its aim is to acknowledge butcheries which meet consumer expectations around in-store hygiene, quality of meat, level of competence in offering meal preparation advice, and perceived value for money.
Between October and December of each year, the public is encouraged to nominate their favourite butchery – these are grouped into three categories: butcheries with four or more till points; butcheries with three or fewer till points; and food markets or supermarket butcheries. Towards the end of 2016 during the three-month period, over 30,000 public nominations were received; and of these, 150 finalists were assessed using a 212 point checklist – some butcheries scoring up to 99.8%. The winners, announced in April 2017, saw six national and 39 provincial butcheries winning Platinum or Gold Cleaver Awards all proudly sponsored by Freddy Hirsch – who also masterfully blend and prepare spices exclusively for N1. In the 4+ tills category: the coveted national Platinum winner was Impala Vleis in Brits; and the Gold winner was Boma Vleismark in Moreletapark. In the up to 3 tills category: Platinum went to Boma Olympus, Faerie Glen; and Gold went to Uitkyk Vleismark, Lichtenburg. And in the meat markets category: the Platinum winner was The Grove Superspar Riverside, Nelspruit; and the Gold winner was Superspar Edenglen, Johannesburg.
Another competition still growing in popularity – being newcomers to the championship – but, no less auspicious is The World Butchers’ Challenge (WBC). Originally named the Trans-Tasman Test Match, it began in 2011 as a butchery competition between New Zealand and Australia. In 2013 a team from the UK joined the game elevating it to the Tri-Nation’s Butchers’ Challenge; and in 2016 France entered the race taking it to global status. In 2018 the WBC became truly global with the addition of Greece, the USA, Italy and South Africa.
Happening on 21 March in Belfast, the WBC spans three hours and fifteen minutes; and in that time participants are given a side of beef, pork, a full lamb carcass and five chickens to prepare using their own seasonings, spices and marinades – judges score the teams based on butchery skill, workmanship, innovation, and presentation. The South African Best Butchers Choppers Team, selected in May 2017, consists of 6 highly experienced butchers and is led by team captain, Johan Pretorius, who himself has over 22 years of experience in the butchery and meat management industry.
Whether national or global, any event that promotes the meat industry, best practises and service excellence is a great idea. So, best of luck to all participants, particularly to the SA team later this month – bring home the trophy and make us proud.