Leigh Hart out in the cold following Hellers Sharp Blacks snub

Leigh Hart, Corey Winder Hellers Sharp Blacks
Awkward!!! The moment Leigh Hart (elft) learns from Hellers Sharp Blacks team captain Corey Winder (right) that he won't be part of the butchery team going to Sacramento.

Comedian and radio broadcaster Leigh Hart turned his hand to butchery in a feeble attempt to make the Kiwi butchery team, the Sharp Blacks who have now partnered with Hellers as they prepare for the World Butchers’ Challenge – the Olympics of butchery – due to take place next October in Sacramento, California.

It’s all been caught on video too.

Brydon Heller, marketing manager for Hellers and team manager for the Hellers Sharp Blacks, was quick to point out that this was a dream fit for the smallgoods producer to partner with the butchery team.

“Hellers are New Zealand’s butcher, so for us it was an easy decision to support the team. We want to showcase the industry and New Zealand has some of the finest butchers in the world – our record in the World Butchers’ Challenge is testament to that. So, it was obvious decision for us to support the team and get behind their journey to Sacramento, 2020” Brydon Heller commented.

He continued: “Within the Hellers Sharp Blacks we have decades of collective experience and that’s a real asset to Hellers. We plan to work with the team to showcase our products as well as work with them on developing some new product ranges.”

As the face of Hellers, Hart presumed he would be a shoo-in for a spot on the team but was left disappointed following a calamitous try-out (view video HERE) which left selectors scratching their heads.

“I’ve been part of the Hellers team for years, so when they partnered with the Sharp Blacks it was the opportunity of a lifetime to get on the world stage, pull on the black jersey and represent my country. All those minutes spent youtubeing what to do, all the mental preparation and visualisation has been wasted. I even came home from the pub early last night for this. Gutted doesn’t come close,” said Hart.

Corey Winder, captain of the Hellers Sharp Blacks since their inception in 2011, oversaw Hart’s trial and was less than complimentary about the 48-year-old’s effort.

Winder noted: “Leigh’s delusional. At one point he was using the blunt side of the knife to cut a pork loin and then put a knife steel up a chicken to make it easier to ‘carve’ as he termed it. ‘Don’t give up the day job’ was the feedback I gave him.”

The World Butchers’ Challenge, a biennial event which started out as a Trans-Tasman Test Match in 2011, will head to the iconic Golden 1 Centre in the Californian capital city of Sacramento.

Once there, the Hellers Sharp Blacks along with fifteen other nations will be tasked with slicing up a side of beef (half a carcase), a side of pork (half a carcase), a whole lamb and five chickens to produce a themed display of value-added products in the panic-inducing time of just three hours and fifteen minutes.

A global panel of judges will then score each team based on strict criteria that includes; knife skills, hygiene, safety, consistency, time management, cookability & saleability as well as style, visual impact, teamwork and innovation of the display.

As the clock counts down to the competition, the expectation will undoubtedly grow for the butchers that made the team. Brydon Heller did have some words of wisdom to ensure Hart secures his seat on the plane to Sacramento.

“Once we land, it’s a pressure cooker situation,” says Winder. “You’re eyeballing your opponents and everyone is there to win. Sometimes that can be a little daunting and some light humour can go a long way to settling the nerves. One thing I’ve learnt about Leigh is he can make people laugh, perhaps he could come along as our team mascot to keep the spirits up.”

Every team member has a particular job to concentrate on. The two breakers & boners work with the carcase, breaking it down into the primal cuts which are then passed to the product developers. The breaker and boner is the engine room of the team and it’s vital they are speedy, yet accurate and efficient, with minimal waste. Three product developers take the primal cuts from the breaker and boners and turn them into products you would expect to see in a retail meat display. The creative and final end of the process is garnishing and display of the value-added products – giving them the ‘X Factor’.

The 2019 Hellers Sharp Black squad is made up of the following members:

  • Corey Winder (team captain, product developer) – Elite Meats Bush Inn, Christchurch
  • Jeremy Garth (product developer) – New World Ferry Road, Christchurch
  • David Timbs (product developer) – Peter Timbs Meats, Christchurch
  • Riki Kerekere (breaking & boning) – Countdown Meat & Seafood, Auckland
  • Reuben Sharples (breaking & boning) – Aussie Butcher New Lynn, Auckland
  • James Smith (garnishing & display) – PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe, Auckland
  • Luka Young (reserve) – New World Eastridge, Auckland

The 2019 Sharp Black’s sponsors: Heller’s, Beef + Lamb NZ Inc, New Zealand Pork, Active Refrigeration, Kiwi Labels, Multivac and Dunninghams.

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