TAFE SA’s Meat Studies lecturer Graeme Elliott describes himself as a “butcher, first and educator, second” and now he can add the mantle of ‘industry legend’.
The SA branch of the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) presented Graeme with the Industry Legend Award at its annual dinner recently.
The award acknowledges Graeme’s important contribution to the industry, providing knowledge, experience and training to butchers, and going above and beyond to connect and engage with industry committees and events.
“It’s very humbling and quite surprising but it’s very nice to be recognised,” says Graeme, whose connection with the trade began as a 15-year-old apprentice.
His first job was at Seaview Meat Specialist, at Grange, and he went on to work for several businesses before buying his own, the St Georges Meat Store, in 1990.
“Having my own business and being able to employ some butchers and train four apprentices was definitely a career highlight,” Graeme says.
While running his business, he was asked to do some casual lecturing at TAFE SA, which opened the door on the next phase of his career.
“It wasn’t something that was on my radar, but I enjoyed the teaching, so I sold my business and came to TAFE SA full time in 1998,” he says.
“Working with apprentices is so rewarding. When I started, all the apprentices came on campus but now I go out to workplaces and do training and assessing in retail butchers.
“I see lots of past apprentices. It’s great to see that they’ve gone on to bigger and better things. To see how they’ve grown from their first week as an apprentice to working or running a business and employing their own apprentice is really satisfying.”
Graeme joined AMIC’s Retail Council when he was a business owner and has continued the association during his time at TAFE SA.
“We work closely with them, hosting their competitions and demonstrations at Regency Campus and helping to represent what they do,” he says.
Graeme was involved in setting up the Master Butchers program to recognise longevity in the industry.
“It’s to recognise people who have come through the industry and reached a pinnacle of employing and training apprentices and offering their services in the industry to make it better,” Graeme says.
“I wanted apprentices to recognise that there was a pathway in our industry.”
Attracting people to the trade continues to be a challenge, Graeme says, with cookery and bakery enjoying a higher profile through TV reality shows and competitions, and fewer butcher shops than there was a decade ago.
Despite this, Graeme says being a butcher remains a great job and for those who take it up, a rewarding career awaits.