In search of the perfect steak


The World Butchers' Challenge, for me, was an inspirational experience.  Seeing how each country had their own butchery methods, while producing artistic cuts and picture perfect meat displays, gave me so many ideas to take back to my own shop. Judging the World Champion Young Butcher and Apprentice competition was a highlight, as it really showcased the talent coming through the trade. The whole experience has ignited my passion for pushing the boundaries and providing my customers with new and exciting cuts of meat. The people I met made the experience what it was and I look forward to keeping up the friendships I made with butchers from around the globe. 

But enough about that…next came our long awaited family trip. We travelled to many cities around UK and Europe and I made it my mission to find the perfect steak.  As a butcher, I am a bit of a steak connoisseur, so of course I had to sample what each country had to offer. 

First up, the World Butchers' Challenge awards evening in Belfast. Eye fillet.  Pretty good, served with a nice sauce but not my favourite cut of steak. Next up, London. A visit to my old stomping ground, and Macken Brothers, the butcher shop I spent a couple of years working in, saw me take away a dry aged piece of rib eye English beef.  Aside from the smoke alarm going off in our Airbnb apartment, it had great flavour but it was a bit chewy if I’m honest (nothing at all to do with my cooking, of course). 

Paris held high hopes for me. The steakhouse recommended the sirloin, and as usual I ordered medium rare. It came out perfectly cooked but lacked the flavour I was still searching for. In the small supermarket in the small town of Seici (just out of Florence), I picked up a large piece of sirloin which looked like it must’ve come off a T-Rex. To put it nicely, this turned out to be the worst steak of the trip. It was tough and chewy and had very little flavour. I was beginning to lose hope and was pining for my Wakanui Rib Eye from back home. The last steak of my trip was eaten as I floated around the Mediterranean on an Italian cruise liner in a restaurant called the Butcher’s Cut. Aha, I thought, I’ve found the place at last. I chose my own steak from the line up, American Black Angus Rib Eye. All 560grams of it. And for the first time in my life, EVER, I couldn’t finish a steak. This steak was probably the favourite of the trip, but still didn’t quite have the wow factor.

Finally, after 6 weeks of searching, I was home, and within hours of landing I was lighting the coals of the old Weber barbeque. I threw on a couple of Wakanui Rib Eye steaks, lightly seasoned with Hardcore Carnivore Black, and as the familiar aromas alerted my senses I began to salivate.  I finished my steak, savouring every bite, and came to the conclusion that us kiwis 100% have the best beef in the world. 

Don’t agree?  I challenge you to let me know what you think…find me on Instagram…


- Reuben Sharples, Aussie Butcher New Lynn, New Zealand 

Ashley GrayComment