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Local meat cutter to represent Canada

DIDSBURY - A local meat cutter from Didsbury recently qualified for the chance to represent Canada at the World Butchers' Challenge in Sacramento, California next September.
butcher
Aaron McLaughlin works with students at the Olds College meat department on Oct. 8.

DIDSBURY - A local meat cutter from Didsbury recently qualified for the chance to represent Canada at the World Butchers' Challenge in Sacramento, California next September.

Aaron McLaughlin, who teaches meat processing at Olds College, was thrilled to learn he was one of seven butchers from across the country selected for Team Canada.

"I work for the meat program here at the college," said McLaughlin. "It's called the National Meat Training Centre. I've known about the World Butchers' Challenge and followed it for years. The majority of the competitions were just between Australian, New Zealand and Great Britain.

"This is the first year that Canada's put in a team. The organizers put it out on social media that they were looking for entries so I filled out an application."

Putting together the team was Peter Baarda, team captain, a three-time winner of Ontario's Finest Butcher competition.

"What they did is a social media competition," said McLaughlin. "Because Canada is quite vast they wanted entries from all over Canada. So there was a variety of video challenges as well as photo contests just to showcase their skills and so on."

McLaughlin said the judges wanted to see specific cuts of meat such as prime rib and lamb shoulder.

"Then they wanted to see videos. They wanted to see like sausage making and breaking down of carcasses and that kind of stuff," he said. "Through all that, they are looking for efficiency, cleanliness of the work, skill of the work, and just the overall final product."

McLaughlin said he and the other team members will be getting together in Niagara Falls later this month for training.

"We won't be getting together over the Christmastime because it's so busy for the industry," he said. "We will be getting together after that probably every other month. We're hoping to have about six practice sessions."

McLaughlin said the group is hoping to come out and use the Olds College facility for one or more of the sessions.