VG’s Dave Vander Velde is competing at the World Butchers Challenge in Sacramento

VG’s Dave Vander Velde is competing at the World Butchers Challenge in Sacramento

VG Meats has some exciting news—our longtime butcher and Stoney Creek retail manager, Dave Vander Velde, is heading to the World Butchers Challenge in Sacramento, California this fall. We’ve long known how skilled Dave is, and we’re incredibly excited to see him represent VG Meats (and all of Canada!) when he competes on the world stage. It’s the first time Canada has entered a team in the World Butchers Challenge, and we know they’re going to do an incredible job representing our craft, our industry and our country. We’re cheering them on already!

The backstory

It all started when Kyle VG mentioned this opportunity to Dave in the store a few years ago, encouraging him to try out for Team Canada. Kyle knew that Dave had the talent and dedication needed to succeed in the competition, and hoped that Dave would represent VG Meats at this prestigious industry event. Dave decided to give it a go, and was thrilled to discover he’d been selected as one of eight butchers from across Canada.

Dave and the team planned on flying to California for the competition in the fall of 2020, but as we all know, nothing went exactly as planned that year. The challenge was postponed due to the pandemic but now, over two years later, it’s back on. After a much longer wait than expected, Team Canada is more than ready for the World Butcher Challenge!

Earning a spot on Team Canada

With so many skilled butchers working with VG Meats and our industry peers, being asked to represent Canada in an international competition is a genuine honour. Dave is a second generation butcher with over 25 years of experience and a genuine passion for what he does. “I absolutely love my job and enjoy the challenges of this industry. Reducing waste, and using every part of the animal is the best way that we can show respect for these amazing creatures.”

As much as VG Meats loves Dave, Dave loves VG Meats – and he swears he’s not just saying that! “They have fully supported my participation in this event, and encourage me to always learn new things. Making the team has sparked a sense of excitement within the entire organization which has resulted in a lot of support and encouragement.”

Dave and his teammates met as a team for the first time in late 2019, when they were preparing to compete in the fall of 2020. At the time, he said, “This competition will push me to do my absolute best and prove to the world that from coast to coast, Canada has an amazing team of butchers. I feel confident that Canada will take its place among the best and prove that we have what it takes.”

Going the distance

Shortly after he made Team Canada, we asked Dave what competing in this challenge means to him. His answer was heartfelt. “I am blessed to represent Canada, my family, and my friends. I will do this with pride and integrity to show my kids that good things will happen if you put your heart in it and work hard.”

Over two years later, Dave feels the same way—but now, the anticipation has really grown. Dave’s been waiting years to head to the competition in Sacramento and finally, it’s within his sights. He’s eager to show off his skills in September and do his best to help Team Canada take the win. And now, he’s even more invested in their success. “I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the other butchers over the last two years,” he explains. “We’ve developed a real camaraderie and support for one another, and I’m excited to do this with them.”

While the World Butchers Challenge doesn’t take place until September, Dave and the rest of Team Canada are gathering in British Columbia next week to practice their skills and continue strengthening their bond as a team. And, before you know it, they’ll be off to California to face off against some of the best butchers in the world!

We’re on Team Dave!

On behalf of the entire Van Groningen family, the VG Meats team and all of our wonderful customers and community members—congratulations, Dave! It’s been a long haul but your moment is finally here. We’re proud of you and know you're going to do amazing things at the competition. VG Meats is lucky to have you, and so is Team Canada!