Lessons in Master Butchery with Sylvester Byrne

There’s something truly fascinating about butchery.

Whether it’s having the skill to break down something so intricate or having the knowledge to know where to cut here and there, we’re not too sure, but one thing’s for certain, Sylvester Byrne knows his stuff.

Known to us simply as “Syl”, the Master Butcher joined our 4-week certificate cert students for a butchery masterclass.

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Coming from a long line of Master Butchers, Syl is now nine years retired but has also previously worked as a lecturer in DIT on their Culinary Arts degree.

Donning the customary red and white striped apron along with a protective chainmail and wielding his tools, there was something almost soldier-esque about him. Perhaps it was the look of determination, or maybe it was the sharp cleaver!

Talking about how this particular animal was slaughtered, he pointed out the label which gave him the date of killing, where it was killed and its veterinary inspection number.  The stamp (see photo), shows that the animal was healthy and is suitable for human consumption.

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Clearly skilled with his hands, Syl broke down the carcass with such grace that you cannot help but admire him as yes, a butcher, but also an artist.

You know that he could tackle any carcass in minutes without breaking a sweat.

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“Cut accordingly”, said Syl, “Think about exactly what you want the cuts for” then there will be minimum waste.

This isn’t just any normal technique. The way he’s able to go through everything with such precision, showing the students every muscle and line of fat is a skill that takes years of mastering the trade.

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Dismantling the pork into its four main cuts, he brought us through every aspect of the meat; how the muscles work; the types; what’s best for roasting; the most profitable cuts.

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When you see something like this taken apart so expertly, you gain a real appreciation for butchery. We’re so used to seeing the packet in front of us that we rarely think about how it came to be.

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Not only is Syl a Master Butcher, but he’s also a complete gentleman and we can’t wait to welcome him back to Cooks Academy soon.

If you’re interested in learning about the Fundamentals of Butchery, keep an eye out on our website for future dates.

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