A butchery apprentice in his prime

March 5, 2019

Tristan Fraser has proved it's never too late to start a successful career. As a keen fisherman and hunter with eight years' experience managing a hunting retail store, the move into the retail meat sector has been a natural one. Tristan is in his 30s and three years into his butchery apprenticeship with Countdown and Competenz.

Juggling work and family life can be a struggle at times, and throwing studies into the mix could have been daunting, but not for this man. “It’s easy when you’re passionate about something,” says Tristan, who started working at Countdown in Dunedin with his mind firmly set on an apprenticeship. A few months later he had the placement sorted and was also promoted to manage a team of four in two of the store’s departments – meat and seafood.  

With a very basic butchery knowledge, Tristan says he feels humbled for the time devoted in teaching him about the finer cuts. “Having someone stand next to you to teach a trade is very special.”

Tristan’s role as butchery manager keeps him busy and comes with a lot of responsibility. “Stock management, ordering, rostering, everything from start to finish, it’s all on me.”

He enjoys the day-to-day snags that come up and sees them as an opportunity to learn, admitting that one of the biggest challenges in the beginning was managing the butchers, some of whom have been in the trade for more than 50 years. Asked about any pushbacks, Tristan says: “I just take it with a grain of salt and move on.”

He has nothing but praise for the team at Countdown, saying there has been no shortage of support. “The store management is always there to back me up, offer good advice and encouragement.”

Tristan will become a qualified butcher in 2019. He hopes to continue working at Countdown, but being a big foodie he dreams of one day running his own boutique butchery.

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