CHESTER butcher Stuart Bebbington hopes to give his rivals the chop after making the final of a national competition.
Having been based in Chester Market since 1993, Stuart decided to open his own shop in May and has already carved out an impressive reputation.
S.J. Bebbington Butchers of Chester, which is in Westminster Park, has been named one of the top three shops in the region in the Butcher's Shop of the Year Awards 2012.
Stuart, who lives in Tarvin, said he was delighted to be in contention for the awards just three months after opening.
He said: “We have had a really good reception. It has been hard work but things could not have gone any better.
“We were in the market for 19 years but we didn’t feel able to invest because we did not know what was happening to the market.
“We saw this empty unit, explored things and decided to take it on.”
Stuart, 41, has invested heavily to transform the former off-licence and the new premises has allowed him to expand his product range.
He said: “It is a big investment but we see it as long-term.
“I always wanted to make my own pies and that is something we can do now.
“We are absolutely chuffed to bits to get to this stage and we are treating it as a learning curve.”
Stuart works alongside 23-year-old Joe Farmer, who originally started out as a Saturday assistant in the market.
Competition judges are due to visit the shop in the next two weeks to see the pair at work and to look around the new shop.
Stuart will then travel to the five-star Landmark London Hotel in November to find out whether he has won the title of Britain’s best butcher.
He said: “The judges don’t just look at the front of the shop, they look at the back too so hygiene is really important as well as the quality of your meat.
“It is a bit nerve-wracking and things have happened a lot quicker than we expected but we are really please to get this far.”