Girl Power: Codie-jo paves the way for female butchers and encourages others to choose a career that makes them happy
A 20-year-old Keady woman is taking the butchery world by storm and ‘slicing’ through stereotypes along the way.
Codie-jo Carr first developed an interest in butchery when she helped out with deliveries from her family’s business, Carrs Elite Foods, to various shops and butchers.
Now, she is fully qualified and doesn’t pay attention to anyone who tells her ‘it’s a man’s job’, instead, she is encouraging other females to follow their dreams too.
She has shown so much dedication and commitment to honing her skills as a butcher that she is heading off to a prestigious competition in England next month, where she will go head-to-head with six other butchers from England, Wales and Ireland.
In her later years of primary school, the Co. Armagh woman was diagnosed with dyslexia, but she didn’t let that stand in her way.
At 16, Codie-jo embarked on her butchery career, after exploring the option of a job in the culinary world, which she soon ruled out.
“In my GCSE year, I did a cooking course but I didn’t enjoy it,” she explained.
“I knew myself it just wasn’t for me.
“I then had a week of work experience to do in my last year of GCSEs and I explored butchery.
“After my first day of my work experience, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in butchery.
“I started to look into the career in more detail, which is when I found the course on the Southern Regional College website.
“I studied butchery at the SRC where I achieved my Level 2 meat and poultry and my Level 3 food management and I am now a qualified butcher.”
Codie-jo was encouraged to give competitive butchery a try and will be heading to the Butchery WorldSkills UK finals for a second time next month.
“When I was in my first year in the SRC, my tutor introduced me to various competitions that I could compete in as an up-and-coming or qualified butcher,” she said.
“I went to my first competition heats in Glasgow.
“I went to Glasgow with no intentions of getting into the finals, as I had only intended on gaining practice for the next year.
“However, on 5 August 2019 I found out that I had made it through to the WorldSkills finals.
“I was over the moon when I found out - I couldn’t believe it!”
When she got to the finals, the young butcher worked as hard as she could, but it just wasn’t meant to be on that occasion.
However, with that experience behind her, Codie-jo will take part in the finals for a second time next month.
“I re-entered in this year’s heats, which were online due to Covid regulations, and I did really well in them,” she continued.
“I am now heading to England to compete in the finals which are going to take place in person at the Reasehealth College in Nantwich.
“I am really excited to be in the finals this year and I hope that it works out for me.”
The final is made up of five sections, held over the course of two days.
They include making a barbecue display, making sausages, making a ready to eat product, a mystery box in which the products have to be ‘kitchen ready’ and bone and seam butchery and display.
The Keady native has gained a wealth of experience in the run-up to this year’s finals and believes the best thing about her job is that she is always learning and creating new things.
“Sometimes, some product might not work out for you, but that’s the fun part because you can always learn from it,” she explained.
And, she isn’t put off by people who tell her butchery is a career for men to pursue!
“A question I always get is, ‘why are you a butcher? That’s a man’s job, girls aren’t butchers’,” Codie-jo revealed.
“I believe that a woman can do just as much as a man can do, and more.
“I say, if you are a woman in a male-dominant industry that you enjoy working in, but you always get told ‘you’re a girl, you shouldn’t be working in that industry’, don’t listen to them.
“It’s your life, your choices and I believe you should do what makes you happy, not what makes others happy.”
In the future, Codie-jo would like to work in conjunction with her family-run business and, hopefully, bring something new to it for customers to enjoy.