Talented Teessider scoops Butcher of the Year award after six months in the business

Blackwells team
Blackwells team -Credit:ECHO PR

A young Teesside butcher has scooped a top industry award.

20-year-old Max Smith, who works at Blackwell's Butchers in Norton, won the award for Young Butcher of the Year, beating competition from butchers aged 24 and under from the length and breadth of the British Isles.

Blackwells also scooped the award for Best Butcher Steak with its Dry Aged Sirloin Steak at the awards, organised annually by the Q Guild of Butchers. The Smithfield Awards which have run for more than 30 years, recognise and reward the UK's finest craft butchery products including sausages, bacon, burgers, steak, game products, BBQ products and more and are widely recognised as the meat trade's most high profile and challenging product evaluation.

Products are awarded a Bronze, Silver or Gold award by a panel of independent industry judges, with all Gold products in each category then pitched against each for the category champion Diamond Award. Scoring 69 points out of a possible 70, Blackwells' Dry Aged Sirloin Steak was described by judges as "outstanding" and beat two other Gold finalists to secure the top spot and receive the coveted Diamond Award at Butchers' Hall in London last week.

Anna Blackwell, from Blackwells, said: "That Max won an award after six months in the business is testament to his character and work ethic and we're incredibly proud to have him in the team. We've been members of the Q Guild and coming to the awards for years, but we believe our win this year came due to the passion of the team we have in place now.

"Most of our butchers in their 30's, they're passionate about what they do, and we really believe we've got the best dry-aged sirloin steak in the business, so it means a lot to win this award and the recognition that comes with."

Gordon Wallace, Q Guild Manager said: "The Smithfield Awards serve as a platform to recognise the very best in UK craft butchery, helping to elevate standards and inspire product innovation. They are the meat trade's foremost and most rigorous product evaluation and achieving a Smithfield award is a fantastic endorsement.

"Our Q Guild Young Butcher of the Year award really is the most important of all. It recognises the skill, hard work and determination of our young butchers and provides confidence that the future of our craft is in safe hands. Max is an extremely worthy winner, and we were delighted to present him with his award."

Blackwells of Norton is an independent butcher's shop which has been the heart of Norton Village for nearly 70 years. The butchers is a family run business that prides itself on serving locally sourced quality meat and their famous pies and pastries.

For the past 30 years Blackwells has been a part of the Q Guild and is the only Q Guild butcher in the area from Northumberland to Leeds.

Blackwells posted the news on Facebook following the awards ceremony. A spokesperson said: "Incredibly proud team moment for the Blackwell's family! We're thrilled to share that at the coveted Smithfield Awards ceremony today, our Dry Aged Sirloin Steaks have been awarded the prestigious Diamond Award, while our talented Max Smith has been crowned Young Butcher of the Year!

"After 70 years in the industry, it's truly humbling to see our dedication to quality and craftsmanship continuing to be recognised on such a grand scale. A huge thank you to everyone involved, and congratulations to all winners and nominees." You can find out more about Blackwells on their website here.