September 24, we touched down in Sacramento for the World Butcher’s Challenge Captain’s Run - the precursor to the World Butcher’s Challenge 2020.  

Being named one of the 6 Heller’s Sharp Blacks was an honour and a privilege - a goal finally reached, so being asked along on the Captain’s Run was an invitation not to be turned down.  

There were 7 of us making up the Kiwi contingent, including myself and Katie (my wife, who was quite easily convinced to come along for the ride).  We had a day before the official proceedings began so made the most of our time by wandering the city.  The 40-degree heat made the going slow, but a history museum we chanced upon was a cool relief.  It was here it became apparent that American history was non-existent in our schooling - we learnt a lot!  

But now onto the reason we were there.  16 countries all convening to meet and check out the city that had won the bid to host the 2020 World Butcher’s Challenge.  16 of the best butchers in the world!  Inspiring is the word that comes to mind when recalling the conversations had with these people from all around the world.  Motivating is another.  Next year we will be competitors.  We will convene with one goal in mind – to beat every country and be crowned the best in the world. 

But on this trip, we were friends.  This trip was a chance to get to know the other captains, team members, managers, support crew.  There was an air of festivity and excitement as we mingled and introduced ourselves on the first night of the tour.  Beers were drunk, friends were made, and the next few days followed in much the same way. 

The first day saw us ushered through security and into the Golden 1 Centre.  A stadium so impressive it had us all speechless.  Just the thought that those same seats would soon be filled with people coming to watch us compete – well, as you can imagine, it was a pretty emotional moment.  The stadium tour was a definite highlight.  

Another highlight was a visit to the ranch where the beef for our competition is being reared.   We admired the stag heads on the walls of the homestead and were taken on a tour of the farm, by tractor.  A yummy picnic lunch then followed, out in the garden, hay bales for seats.  A unique experience, and very cool getting to see the beef grazing in the fields.  

On our last full day, we experienced Sacramento’s Farm to Fork Festival.  A whole road in the middle of the city closed off to cars and filled with food trucks, market stalls and everything in-between.  There was live music and a number of stages, one of which we had the run of for most of the day.  4 of the different countries were chosen to showcase their butchery skills while answering questions on stage.  It was awesome to watch our competitors at work, and definitely gave us an insight into the level of competition we will be up against.  

Amongst all of this activity was the food.  And boy did we eat! From brewery dinners to fine dining restaurants, each experience was delicious and fun - a time to reflect on the day’s activity with our new friends and talk meat!  

We came away from the whole tour thankful to have been included in such a fantastic event, thankful for new friends made, and most of all thankful for the chance to come back in a little under a year to compete against the best in the world.

That’s all from me – now to get practicing!

Reuben Sharples
Heller’s Sharp Black team member       

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The Aussie Butcher turns 40!

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