A TALENTED butcher from Newtown is set to travel to the United States next week to represent Wales in an international competition.

Dan Raftery from Meat Masters Butchers, Newtown, is part of the Welsh team taking part in the World Butchers’ Challenge in Sacramento, California on September 2 and 3.

The Welsh team, who fly out to Sacramento on August 30, will be making their debut at the World Butchers’ Challenge where Celtic cousins Ireland will be defending their title against 12 other teams.

The team’s final training session was held on Sunday, when Craft Butchery Team Wales co-ordinator Chris Jones, who is head of Cambrian Training Company’s food and drink business unit, put his judge’s hat on to cast a strict eye over the butchers’ work.

“The team has improved so much in the last six weeks in terms of being organised, methodical and fast,” he said. “They have trained every Sunday for the past six weeks and their hard work has paid off. They have really stepped it up and are excited and ready to go.

“I cannot praise the butchers enough for their commitment and dedication. The team spirit is great and we are one of the few countries in the competition that has had the same members since the cycle began.

“We are also very lucky to have fantastic support from our sponsors and others associated with the team.”

As well as Dan, the Welsh team comprises of Peter Rushforth from Innovative Food Ingredients, Lytham St Annes, who is captain, Craig Holly, from Chris Hayman Butchers, Maesycymer, Hengoed, Tom Jones from Jones Brothers, Wrexham, Matthew Edwards, a lecturer at Coleg Cambria, Connah’s Quay, Liam Lewis from Hawarden Farm Shop and Ben Roberts from M. E. Evans Butchers, Overton-on-Dee.

The competition, often referred to as the ‘Olympics of Meat’, is conducted over three hours and 15 minutes, with competing teams given a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb and five chickens which they must then transform into a themed display of value-added products.

Teams are allowed to provide their own seasonings, spices, marinades and garnish to finish products that are designed to inspire and push the boundaries, yet which are also cookable and would sell.

Independent judges score each team based on technique and skill, workmanship, product innovation, overall finish and presentation.