Tales from Ireland with Andy O'Rourke
At Peter Bouchier we have an amazing group of butchers, a number of which originate from overseas. Butchering is a trade that has similar principles worldwide, though differs slightly from country to country as it reflects their traditions, culture and values.
The manager of our butcher shop in the David Jones Foodhall, Andy O’Rourke, comes from the land of luck and leprechauns. A keen storyteller, Andy often excites us with snippets from his days working in Ireland before he embarked on his adventure to come to Australia. Many of these stories resonate with us as there are so many similarities between the Irish and Aussie butchers. For example, butcher talk/code. A special code language spoken at butcher shops so that butchers can say confidential things to each other when there is a shop full of people. When Andy became a member of the team, the butchers were all amused to hear Andy’s version the traditional code, which he spoke in Gaelic!
One aspect of the butchering industry that seems to be universal is competitions. Butchers pride themselves on crafting and creating the best sausages, burgers, bacon, ham etc. and it is a testament to the passion they have for their products. We are fortunate that our industry is so supportive of showcasing the talents and facilitate events for butchers to compete in such things as Pork Awards, Sausage King and the Fine Food Awards. Competition is tough, with multiple products submitted for all different categories. Having so many high quality entries, to come home with a 1st, 2nd or 3rd prize is truly special.
Perhaps my favourite of Andy’s tales from Ireland, is that of the Country Fair in which their Maple Baked Ham won first prize. The story went something like this:
The annual County Fair was the highlight of the summer. Each year, hundreds of people would come to enjoy the events of the day – market stalls, rides, the annual fundraising raffle and the announcing of prestigious county awards. These awards were particularly coveted for the women’s association as most of the women competed in heats for the best cakes. This year, the butcher shop where Andy was working had submitted a slow baked maple ham which was favourite for the win in the ham category. The rival butchery from the nearby town also had a very strong entry, so there was a lot of chatter around the Fair as to whom would take out the top prize! Almost all the butchers from the two butcher shops attended the Fair, all in high spirits with the expectation of a win.
As the day progressed and a few beers consumed in the sunshine, the butchers became rowdy and an imminent wager was placed between the boys. Each butcher from the losing butcher shop would be auctioned off on the stage after the raffle. It was quickly arranged with one of the County Fair officials that the proceeds would go towards the fundraiser, which from Andy’s memory, was the local school.
There was endless banter between the butchers until finally the award was announced for best ham. Andy’s butcher shop had prevailed! Their slow baked maple ham had really wowed the judges due to their unique cooking process. The butchers from the nearby town were soon ushered up to the stage, tails between their legs, to be sold to the highest bidders! Suggested uses for the young men were – home maintenance or a dinner date! In the weeks to follow everyone in the County were talking about the auctions. It had created such a buzz. The auctions were so successful that this tradition continued the year after, and although Andy has not returned back for a while, he believes the tradition continues to this day.
For more tales, you can visit our Irish butcher Andy at our David Jones Butchers counter in Bourke Street.
We also stock all of our award winning hams in our David Jones Deli counter.