Butcher’s apprentice Josh Flannery-Kile worked as a labourer after school before considering butchery as a career.
Reading about the meat processing course at Melbourne Polytechnic helped him make up his mind. A year later he’s enjoying spending time working at farmer’s markets, cooking and learning about the different cuts of meat.
When Melbourne Polytechnic apprentice Josh Flannery-Kile started thinking about a career in butchery, his friends recommended the courses at Melbourne Polytechnic. He’d worked as a labourer after finishing school, but when he read about the Certificate III in Meat Processing at Melbourne Polytechnic, his mind was made up. “It was a job that really appealed to me. It’s not your normal thing, it’s a necessity. People have to eat. And I’ve always enjoyed meat and everything about it.”
Growing up with a grandmother who worked in a butcher’s shop, who also happened to be a great cook, certainly helped. “That’s one part of the course. We learn about cooking and the best methods for different cuts. I’m not too bad. I can cook a steak.”
After he applied for the course, Josh met a local farmer who agreed to take him on as a butcher’s apprentice. The farmer supplies the meat to Josh at Melbourne Polytechnic’s Epping campus, where he prepares it for the market. So far he’s enjoyed every aspect of the course. “I knew it was the right decision as soon as I started. The teachers are great.
They’ve been in the industry a long time. I can get along with them and they explain things in a way people understand.”
As part of the course, 19-year-old Josh regularly works the retail counter at local farmers’ markets. “It’s very different to working in a shop. The customers ask a lot of questions about the different cuts.”
Josh’s boss, who breeds Belted Galloway cattle and grass-fed herds, supplies meat to local high-end restaurants as well as farmers markets. “The restaurants are really becoming interested in how to vary their produce from season to season. Certain restaurants are more into the slow cuts for casseroles, while the high-end places want half bodies and full bodies supplied to them.”
Josh says there’s a current trend towards cooking more offal and old-fashioned cuts of meat, with many restaurants serving ox tongue and oxtail as well cuts like skirt steak. “It’s the real old-fashioned way of preparing food, like my grandmother used to do it.”
With two more years of his apprenticeship to go, Josh is happy to continue in his current job. In the meantime he is learning a lot about meat. “I know more about quality now, what to look for and where the different cuts come from. I also look at the fat marbling because that adds flavour and makes the meat more tender.”
Certificate III in Meat Processing