Can Team USA win the World Butchers’ Challenge?
Sacramento officials are considering a bid to host the world’s largest butchering competition, hoping to build on the city’s farm-to-fork campaign.
In March, an American team led by Danny Johnson of Taylor’s Market will travel to Belfast, Ireland, to become the first U.S. team to compete in the World Butchers’ Challenge. Even as Johnson and the team prepare for their final training session Sunday, he is eying Sacramento as a possible host for the 2020 competition.
“They are 100 percent behind us,” Johnson said Tuesday of city leaders after meeting with the Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office. “All we have to do is make sure all our numbers work.”
The World Butchers’ Challenge started in 2011 as a grudge match between butchers in New Zealand and Australia. The March competition in Belfast will be the first to include participants from 12 countries around the world.
During the competition, teams of six have three hours and 15 minutes to cut up half a beef animal, a half hog, whole lamb and five chickens, with the aim to produce the most interesting and valuable cuts.
The prestige of the event in Sacramento is one motivation to bring it here, said Mike Testa, chief executive officer of Visit Sacramento.
“We are interested,” he said, adding that the city still needs numbers on the cost of the event and how many hotel room nights it would generate before submitting a formal bid.
The city, Johnson and event organizers have been in communication for five months. Earlier this decade, Sacramento began aggressively marketing itself as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.”
“It fits what we have going from a food standpoint,” Testa said.
In March, Johnson will be joined by some of America’s best butchers from California, Texas, Virginia and South Carolina. Other countries represented include Australia, Bulgaria, Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa.
Testa said that when people talk about “farm-to-fork,” they often think about produce. Bringing the world’s best butchers would give extra attention to the ranching community near Sacramento. The competition in 2020 will include 20 countries.
Johnson said the event would draw 5,000 attendees who could tour the region’s restaurants, butcher shops and ranches.
“It’s a win for everybody,” Johnson said.
Testa credited Johnson with being the driving force behind this effort.
“We love it when people in the community come with so much passion,” Testa said.