The search is on to find the best butchers in the Waikato to take on other regional finalists in the meatiest battle of their careers.

The Alto Young Butcher, ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice and Pure South Master Butcher of the Year will be decided in a spectacular cutting test at the grand final in Auckland in October.

Entries are open now for the regional heats taking place around the country including the Waikato/Central North Island heat in Hamilton on Thursday, August 27.

The event is a firm favourite on the industry calendar and is welcomed back a little later this year due to recent events.

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The competition tests the skills of qualified butchers and butcher apprentices from all around New Zealand when they sharpen their knives and race head-to-head against the clock.

2019 ANZCO Apprentice Butcher of the Year Cherise Redden putting the final touches on her display. Photo / Supplied
2019 ANZCO Apprentice Butcher of the Year Cherise Redden putting the final touches on her display. Photo / Supplied

There are regional heats in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin in which contestants put their boning, trimming, slicing, and dicing skills to the test as they prepare and display a size 20 chicken, a whole pork leg, and a beef short loin.

The top-scoring Alto Young Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice from each region go to the Grand Final.

Additionally, a wild card entry will be selected from the top-scoring Alto Young Butchers and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentices, based on their regional scores, to produce 12 finalists – six in each category.

The grand final in Auckland on October 29 is followed by a black-tie awards dinner.

In a competition first, the Pure South Master Butcher of the Year competition has been added to the line-up where six of New Zealand's most skilled butchers will battle it out in a cutting test, to take out this new crown.

The competition is also a potential stepping stone to a place in our national butchery team, the Hellers Sharp Blacks, who compete biennially in the World Butchers' Challenge – the Olympics of butchery.

Head Judge Peter Martin, a Central Otago butchery manager, is a strong advocate of butchery competitions.

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"I believe the gains are huge for every entrant, from the process of entering, which includes the planning, practising and coming up with creative ideas, right through to competing against your peers," he says.

Alongside industry and peer recognition, the winning Alto Young Butcher and ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice receive a trophy and an international study tour.

The Pure South Master Butcher of the Year will receive a trophy and a $3500 cash prize.

The competition is sponsored by Alto Packaging, ANZCO Foods, Pure South, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Competenz, Dunninghams, Hellers, Tegel and Wilson Hellaby.

Entry forms are available here; entries close on Friday, July 24.