You won't see Alex Harper on any reality cooking television show but the young Waipawa man hopes his skills with a knife around the kitchen can elevate him towards the New Zealand Young Butcher Apprentice of the Year title.
Mr Harper, 22, won the Retail Meat Industry Training Organisation butcher apprentice class at the organisation's lower North Island regional competition in Palmerston North last weekend.
The contestants sat a 30-minute exam and interview, then a two-hour practical test presenting cuts of meat in front of judges.
"We had three different cuts we had to prepare and a fourth cut which we could use to show off our skills and prepare the way we wanted," Mr Harper said.
"I went in the competition last year, so had a bit more of an idea what to expect and what I needed to do."
The win puts him in the hunt for the national title which will be contested in Auckland on August 24. The winner travels to Australia as part of a study tour group.
Mr Harper has worked as a butcher at Hastings City New World for about four years and recently completed his apprenticeship. His love for all things meat began when he worked on his uncle's farm, where he had a chance to learn a bit about the trade, but New World offered the opportunity to take it further as a career.
"I love everything about the job, the customer service part of it, learning about the cuts of meat, making the meat presentable to people."
His favourite cut was an OP rib scotch fillet on the bone, which he used for his freelance option at the regional competition.
"I like cooking, as well, and so it's good to know about the cuts that you're cooking," he said.
Putting his name down for Masterchef isn't in the short-term plan. Instead, it's more about learning what the customers want during each season and which cuts are the most popular over the counter.
"At the moment, people are going for casserole meats and corned silverside, something that they can make to keep themselves warm over the winter," Mr Harper said.