Turnbull's of Alnwick teenager wins Young Butcher of the Year accolade

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Butcher Robert Darling, who works at Turnbull’s of Alnwick, has proved himself a cut above his contemporaries.

The 18-year-old has been crowned Young Butcher of the Year in Q Guild of Butchers 2020 Smithfield ‘Star’ Awards.

He becomes the inaugural winner of the coveted title, open to all aged under 24 and introduced for the first time this year to both recognise and reward the industry’s rising stars.

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Rob said: “I am very pleased to have been asked to develop products, particularly for the Smithfield Star Awards, I feel that I have really settled into the job and that I have found a craft that I have a great deal of passion for.”

Rob Darling.Rob Darling.
Rob Darling.

Part of the brief was that nominees must have developed a product sold in the shop

Rob’s own product, which had first picked up a best in category diamond award, was Pork Wellington, described as a twist on the traditional Wellington using a pork cannon, butterflied open and stuffed with chorizo and morcilla, with the pork rolled back up as a roulade. It is encased in puff pastry lightly brushed with seasoned oil.

Judges praised the attention to detail in his Pork Wellington.

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‘It was technically excellent and performed well when cooked,’ they noted.

Rob Darling and his Pork Wellington.Rob Darling and his Pork Wellington.
Rob Darling and his Pork Wellington.

Rob joined Turnbull’s as an apprentice butcher in May last year at a time of major expansion for the business, with its long-established family-run shop in Market Street recently supplemented by the Northumbrian Food Hall on Willowburn Retail Park.

There is also a standalone factory cutting plant, where all of the raw meat production takes place.

Owner Mark Turnbull, a former Q Guild of Butchers national chairman, said: “In the short time Rob has been with us, the business has evolved arguably more than at any other point than in the previous 140 years we have been trading. He has met the changes superbly and with a terrific attitude.

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“He has worked across all three of our sites and excelled at each. He is predominantly based at the cutting plant, where we are developing his knife skills, having him working on pork, lamb and beef whole carcasses. He has a great level of confidence and competence when he is set a task.

Rob Darling's Pork Wellington.Rob Darling's Pork Wellington.
Rob Darling's Pork Wellington.

“Rob has also worked in both shops, setting counters, serving customers and preparing kitchen ready products.

“He shows great promise with his attention to detail and we were very pleased with his innovation for Young Butcher of the Year.

“We have tried the product in both shops and it has sold extremely well, and customers have provided some marvellous feedback. We are extremely pleased with how Rob has progressed since starting and we see a very bright future for a young man who takes a lot of pride and pleasure in his work.”

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Sponsor, the Institute of Meat, will give Rob one year’s free membership. He also receives a Diamond Award framed certificate, a wooden ‘meat’ chopping board, steak knife and Q Guild apron.

Turnbull’s achieved four product awards in total. The others were for its Northumbrian venison sausage, 8oz sirloin steak and traditional Northumbrian sausage.

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