Paul Gentile from Metro has claimed the title of Ontario’s Finest Butcher for 2021.
Gentile, who works in Toronto as a meat specialist for Metro, came out on top in a battle of 17 of the province’s best butchers in this year’s edition of the competition held annually by Meat & Poultry Ontario.
Gentile started his career working in the meat department at the age of 14 as a clean-up clerk, before progressing to become a meat wrapper, meat cutter, manager, and now a specialist. He gained experience by working in many of the different markets of Ontario and learning the traditional butcher’s trade.
Gentile not only won the bragging rights but also a prize package valued at over $2300 and consisting of a Big Green Egg MiniMax Ultimate Kit, a Mercer Culinary knife set, a custom-made knife courtesy of Dolan Foods, a Yeti Prize Package, a black Chef’s Jacket courtesy of Ontario Beef, and a Ecoboard Resurfacing Package.
The beaten finalists also received the Mercer Culinary knife set, a custom-made knife courtesy of Dolan Foods, and a white Chef’s Jacket courtesy of Ontario Beef.
The final of the competition was held on September 28.
Previously, the six heats had been held in a showcase of extraordinary knife skills as butchers from across Ontario demonstrated their remarkable efficiency.
Competitors had 30 minutes to transform a fresh pork bone-in leg, bone-in butt, and bone-in loin into merchandisable cuts of their choice. They were judged on the degree of difficulty/efficiency and skill level in boning, trimming and cutting, primal cut utilization, and financial performance.
The scores were calculated, and for the first time in eight years a tie was announced, resulting in four butchers moving forward to the final round in Ontario’s Finest Butcher competition.
In the final, Gentile beat Doug Easterbrook of Townsend Butchers in Simcoe, Christopher McNutt of Halenda’s Meats in Oshawa, and Ricardo Sousa of Pavao Meats in Toronto.
“We had a record-breaking 17 butchers competing this year, which is great to see,” said Franco Naccarato, MPO executive director. “All competitors should be extremely proud of their performance.”
The elimination round took place at Halenda’s – The Meat Store in Mississauga. The 320kgs of pork donated by Conestoga Meat Packers, Breslau, was packaged by the team at Halenda’s and delivered to Second Harvest Food Rescue.
Last year’s event was won by Steve Tom of Fortinos in Hamilton.
Ontario’s meat and poultry sector employs 25 per cent of Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry, according to MPO: the single largest manufacturing employer in Ontario. It generates $8.8 billion of the province’s $42 billion food and beverage processing industry revenue.