Butcher battles the best in the business

Raglan’s newest butcher, James Marcum, is sharpening his knives to battle 20 of the best in the industry at the upcoming New Zealand Butcher Wars at Meatstock in Auckland this weekend.

Representing Raglan’s Top Cut Butchery, James is putting his more than 30 years in the industry on the chopping block in the hotly contested competition.

“I don’t enter for the fun of it, I enter to win,” he says.

With more than $1500 worth of prizes at stake, the butchers go knife-to-knife on stage as they work their blades on a side of lamb and cuts of pork to present to the judges in 30 minutes.

This is James’ second go at the title – he was a finalist last year – and says he learnt that presentation is a big part of the competition.

“I had my meat plated on a black tray in plenty of time and then I looked to one side and the guy was presenting on a fancy plate with champagne and glasses and the guy on my other side served up on a nice wooden board.”

James has got a Raglan-inspired trick up his sleeve this year. With help from Raglan Surf Co he will serve his cuts on a surfboard.

The competition is more than just slicing up meat and with 1000 plus in the audience, James says there needs to be a little bit of drama on stage.

“I’m representing Raglan, so I plan to walk on stage to Phil Collins’ ‘Home by the Sea’.”

Starting his career as a clean-up boy at the Bader Street Butchers in Hamilton, James has worked with some of the best in the industry, including old-time Butcher, Bill Waring, and Aussie Master Butcher, Tony Fox.

Calling himself a Māorican, James’ American father served in the US Navy and was stationed in Christchurch when he met his mother, who is connected to Whāingaroa and Kawhia through her mother, Moke.

His competitive streak is not just reserved for butchery competitions. James played for the Wolfpack baseball team, who took out the 2017 World Masters Games.

He hopes to bring baseball to Raglan and is keen to hear from anyone interested in putting a team together – contact James at Top Cut Butchery, 2 Wallis Street.

Janine Jackson