Pakuranga’s Cherise Redden is only in her second year of her Competenz Butchery apprenticeship, but that hasn’t stopped her from taking out the 2019 Retail Meat New Zealand Apprentice of the Year award.
Cherise works at Countdown’s state-of-the-art Meat and Seafood processing facility in Otahuhu and says winning the award means a lot to her. “It’s recognition for something I’ve worked hard at and proves to me that I am good enough, and I’m proud of the fact that I am consistently doing well as a female in a male-dominated industry.”
Prior to starting her apprenticeship, Cherise spent ten years as a knife-hand and says it was a conversation with Countdown Retail Meat senior operations manager Riki Kerekere, that led her to enrol in the apprenticeship programme and pursue a career in butchery.
“I had no job prospects really and Riki asked me if I’d like to work in his chicken boning room. I was a bit apprehensive but thought hey, I’ll give it a go! I love it – it’s so rewarding perfecting a certain cut or consistently de-boning something cleanly every time. I’m most proud of my knife skills. I love every aspect of knife work – speed, cleanliness, presentation and even the physical aspect.
“Starting out in a boning room was the foundation of my love for boning and breaking. I also love sampling new products,” she says.
The early morning starts don’t phase Cherise, who says “waking up at 4 am might sound bad, but it’s a positive as there’s no traffic and you finish early! And working for a large supermarket has its advantages, including getting a lot of practice with our knives with the high volumes of product.”
Riki continues to be an inspiration to Cherise, and has taught her “so much” over the years and his opinion on her work has always been the one she regards the highest.
After she’s completed her studies, Cherise’s dream is to work her way up into an upper management retail role. “I’d like to sustain that career until I’m comfortable enough to move out of the city and settle in a small rural community and maybe even open my own shop. I’d love to train an apprentice of my own one day.”
Her advice to school leavers? Just do it. “Sometimes you just don’t know what you want to do when you leave school and just want to have fun. I say give it a go like I did – you never know – it might end up being that one thing you never thought you’d enjoy or be good at!”