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Butchers preparing for high-level competition

They aren’t athletes in the traditional sense of the word, but the team from Townsend Butchers is preparing for upcoming competitions like committed athletes.

The team from Townsend Butchers is now practicing for the World’s Butcher’s Challenge next year in Paris. Left to right are: Left to right are Jeff Miedema, Doug Easterbrook, Dylan Miedema, Steve Miedema of Townsend Butchers. Doug and Dylan will be the competitors.

Doug Easterbrook could be called the veteran of the competitive butchers at Townsend. He has spent most of his 14 years as a butcher at Townsend.

“I knew I wanted to be a butcher when I was in high school,” he said. “I was doing a lot of competitive barbecuing.”

Explaining further, he said he was doing competitive barbecuing with his father and a couple of friends while going to school in Brantford. He was exposed to the butcher trade during a co-op placement at Strode’s BBQ and Deli.

Competitive butchery is relatively new to Ontario and Canada. In fact, this is only the 10th year of the Ontario’s Finest Butcher competition. The event is hosted by Meat & Poultry Ontario, the industry association representing the province’s meat industry.

When Easterbrook heard about the competition, it appealed to him as a person who was competitive in sports. Butchers are judged on efficiency, craftsmanship, attention to detail and professionalism. They are given a time limit to complete their task.

“You have to think on your feet what you’re doing with these products,” he said. “I like the adrenalin of it.”

The final is completed in front of an audience and the competi]]tors need to explain what they are doing. Easterbrook said this is the professionalism component of the judging.

Easterbrook first competed in 2017 and won provincially in 2022. Now, he can no longer compete at the provincial level, but is part of the national team.

Last year, Townsend Butcher’s Dylan Miedema competed for the first time in the provincials. He made the finals, but didn’t win. “The torch has been passed on to him,” Easterbrook said.

However, Easterbrook is still affiliated with Team Canada and as a member competed in the World Butcher’s Challenge in Sacremento, CA in 2022. “It was pretty tough,” he said of the competition. “It was tough when the butchers from some of the countries, they have been doing this all of their lives.”

He is now training already for competition in Paris next year. Miedema, who represents Canada on the young butcher’s team, is also practicing. “We’re sharpening our skills, working on our creativity and broadening our knowledge,” Easterbrook said.

Their hopes, like an athlete’s, is to be in the winner’s circle. 


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