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Kensal Rise butcher's shop takes on first female apprentices

PUBLISHED: 14:42 02 October 2015 | UPDATED: 14:53 02 October 2015

Emily Boyfield, 23, and Rosie Collingwodd,25, are learning the tricks of the trade at Brooks butchers in Kensal Rise

Emily Boyfield, 23, and Rosie Collingwodd,25, are learning the tricks of the trade at Brooks butchers in Kensal Rise

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A family butcher's shop in Kensal Rise is training up its first generation of female butchers after seeing a spike in young food-lovers keen to take up the trade.

The apprentices are training in how to chop, handle and cook meat as part of their trainingThe apprentices are training in how to chop, handle and cook meat as part of their training

Brooks butchers in Chamberlayne Road has taken on two female trainees and a full-time female assistant in the last year, meaning the girls now outnumber the boys when it comes to cutting the perfect joint of meat.

Rosie Collingwood, 25, who joined the team three months ago after working in a nearby coffee shop, said: “I came to London a year ago from South Africa to study food. I had my eye on the Leith school but cookery schools are so expensive.

“I begged them to let me learn here as butchery is a great way to learn about food and working with meat. Honestly it’s the best job I’ve ever had-it’s my passion and I love it.

Miss Collingwood, who originally worked in graphic design for advertising before deciding to pursue her passion for food in the UK says customers love finding three women behind the counter even if some are initially taken aback.

Mike Aller, 21, (centre) says the number of women taking up the trade is going Mike Aller, 21, (centre) says the number of women taking up the trade is going "through the roof"

She added: “I get a kick out of it. It does take some people by surprise and some do go straight for the males to cut their meat. But most of our customers are so open and they love it too.

“It’s just great that we are being paid to learn and Tony, the head butcher, has been so generous with his time and support.”

Miss Collingwood is joined by full-time assistant Maryanna, 35, and fellow trainee Emily Boyfield, 23, who plans to spend a full year learning how to “respect the animal” by making the most of offal and difficult cuts of meat.

Miss Boyfield said: “We started off with poultry but we’re gradually we’re now building up to different aspects of meat- now if you gave me a whole lamb I could chuck it all down no problem.”

Asked about the rise in aspiring chefs training to become butchers, Miss Boyfield added: “It is seen as traditionally quite a masculine job and it does involve heavy duty lifting but for us it’s just not an issue- we laugh about it.”

Nor is she bothered by the hands-on nature of the job.

“There’s absolutely no squeamishness about it at all. I grew up in Rutland and I’ve been chucking and gutting pheasants since I was four years old- it’s actually my favourite thing to do,” she said.

The new recruits, who have all set their sights on training to become sous-chefs in top London restaurants, are even setting standards for a number of male staff who have been in the business for years.

Mike Aller, 21, who took up a job at Brooks two years ago said: “It’s great to have the girls here. What we pride ourselves on is being a family business and it feels like being in a family unit. All the girls have brilliant customer service as well as being good butchers- you can’t fault them really.”

Mr Aller added that the number of young people looking to learn butchery is on the up as the next generation indulges its passion for traditional cooking.

He said: “I’ve spoken to a few friends who are still studying food and butchery at college and they say the number of women on the course is going through the roof.”

The team are busy preparing for a busy Christmas period, with Miss Boyfield adding: “I’m really looking forward to Christmas, it’ll be mental but lots of fun.”

For more information see: http://www.brooksbutchers.com/

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