Steaks are high I Australian Rural & Regional News
Kirstin Nicholson, The Koondrook Log and Barham Bridge
Step back three years and Cassidy Bullock had no idea her life path was about to take a different direction. Cassidy lived and worked in Echuca but lost her job at the start of the pandemic, so she moved to Kerang to join her boyfriend and started looking for a new job.
To her surprise, she found herself apprenticed as a butcher at Cohuna Butchers, a field she had never considered before. Now in the third year of her apprenticeship, Cassidy, 24, was encouraged by her trade school teacher to enter the Victorian Apprentice of the Year competition run by the Australian Meat Industry Council.
The competition took place at the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne on October 4 with 15 other apprentice butchers and featured two practical components and a 45-minute written assessment on general knowledge, meat safety and health and safety.
The first of the practical assessments saw the apprentices break down half a lamb and a saddle of pork according to precise instructions, complete with presentation key. The second practical part was a mystery box challenge. Each box contained a rump, a leg of lamb and vegetables, and the apprentices had two hours to make as many products as possible, taking into account the presentation.
Three judges criticized the apprentices on criteria such as hygiene, knife safety, knife sharpness and presentation.
“I feel good. I did a good job and I’m proud of what I did,” Cassidy said. “It was a good experience and it took me out of my comfort zone. I don’t mind if I don’t win, I’m just glad I did something like that.
“I was so nervous – it was very nerve-wracking. A lot of them were butchers from Melbourne, so they were a bit fancier than a small-town butcher. It was a very good At least I can say I’ve been there and tried.
In what is a male-dominated industry, Cassidy is one of a growing number of women entering the craft. She loves the work and says it’s also convenient for her family’s on-farm butchering needs.
“It’s very handy to have, very handy to know what to do. When I tell people I do it, everyone thinks it’s so cool. It’s something different; you can be creative, it’s nice.
Cassidy patiently awaits the results, which will be announced Nov. 12 at an awards dinner.
This article appeared in The Koondrook Log and Barham BridgeOctober 20, 2022.