Suzy Rogers is pretty handy with a knife. So good in fact that she recently won an award for her ability to slice and dice.
But don’t worry, it’s all for a good cause.
You see, Suzy, age 24, is a butcher and a good one at that.
In April she beat 23 other young butchers to win the World Butchers’ Challenge – Australian Young Butcher Competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Twenty of the competitors were men with Suzy one of three woman.
They were given three hours to produce as many saleable items from the meat provided including beef rump on the bone, side of pork loin with belly attached and bone in lamb shoulder.
Suzy, who has worked at Meat at Billy’s at Ashgrove for three years, said she became a butcher much by chance and loves every minute of it, particularly the interaction with customers.
“Being able to pass my skills onto others either by making someone’s day by providing them the perfect roast and recipe for a special occasion or simply showing them a trick to help in the kitchen gives me a great buzz”, she said.
She said a crucial ingredient for someone to be a successful butcher was communication.
“Either towards a customer or to fellow work mates, but especially to a customer,” she said.
“You can be the best butcher in the world with knife skills but if you can’t talk to someone about what you have done or produced or where it comes from and how to cook it, you will go nowhere.”
Suzy didn’t set out to become a butcher when she finished school.
“I didn’t really choose butchering, it just happened, really,” she said.
“I don’t come from a background of butchers (it’s very common for people to continue in the family), I just needed a job to support myself and now I have found a job I really love”.
After completing Year 12, Suzy left home to move from small town Meringandan just outside of Toowoomba, where she grew up with her mother and five sisters, to the city to study at university (double degree in human movements and science with secondary education).
“I wasn’t happy and decided to stop my study after two years and try something else. During uni I had a job as a casual butcher hand which meant I served customers, filled the window, cleaned and made some gourmet lines.
“The manager offered me an apprenticeship and I finished that off in two years (usually takes four) and that’s pretty much how everything started.”
Like many jobs there are downsides and Suzy’s is the way her hands “get really cold when working in cold conditions with really cold meat which can be annoying”.
“Other than that I don’t really have anything I don’t like doing. Yet,” she said.
If anyone is planning to drop into Meat at Billy’s to meet Suzy and hopefully pick up some advice with their next meat order, they’ll need to hurry because she is about to head overseas on her next butcher adventure.
She has won a scholarship to work her knife magic in Vancouver, Canada, where she hopes to stay for a year before continuing on to the UK.
She Society is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.