The skill is in demand, a culinary professor said
By Diego Flammini
An old school trade is back in demand.
After years of butchers struggling to find work because customers started to purchase pre-cut and pre-packaged meat in the grocery store, and restaurants and hotels cut butcher positions to save money, the need for skilled meat cutters is increasing.
“I was talking to some butchers after I got into teaching and they were telling me that they need more people in the industry,” Dave Hawey, a chef and culinary skills professor at Durham College’s Centre for Food, told Farms.com. “And a lot of chefs and restaurant owners are saying they need people who know how to cut meat and how to maximize the (protein) yield because it’s such an important skill.”
The 14-week Advanced Culinary Techniques program, which Hawey helped develop, spends seven weeks teaching students how to butcher meat, poultry and fish into food service cuts. Students also learn how to cook, make cheese and other food preparation techniques.
When students handle a carcass, it is their direct connection to agriculture.
Hawey is taking other additional measures to engage the culinary students with the farmers who have raised the animals.
He started a culinary club that welcomes guest speakers from the agri-food sector.
It’s important for students to hear from those who are producing the food they handle, said Hawey, who raised lamb and beef on his wife’s family farm for 16 years before the couple sold the farm three years ago.
“I can speak to some of the farming practices, but the industry is changing and there are a lot of good things happening in agriculture,” he said. “I’d like to foster more relationships with farmers in the community.”