Why is the History channel airing a competition for highly skilled butchers with a $10,000 weekly prize?
We wondered too! Turns out The Butcher exec producer Tim Healy, whose production company also pits bladesmiths against one another for History's Forged in Fire, knows that audiences love to learn about processes steeped in history. And the craft of butchery is one of the original industrial arts.
Below, he answers more of our burning Qs.
How are contestants judged?
Each episode begins with four butchers who are carved down to a winner via three timed challenges. The first involves breaking down a whole animal: How many quality cuts can they produce from a hanging pig, for instance. (Above, host and Survivor vet Colby Donaldson, far left, helps the expert judges — "The Reverend of Fat" Michael Sullivan, Chef Roxanne Spruance, and Dave "The Butcher" Budworth — tally.)
The second tests the butchers' ability to eyeball a desired weight, length, or thickness. As for one savvy contestant who had ruler lines tattooed on his index finger, "he had to wear a rubber glove," Healy says. "He wasn't happy."
The two finalists must then deliver the most expensive cuts from an animal they've never butchered before, like a whole alligator or ostrich.
"Not a single cut on a single blade," Healy notes. (One finalist did nick her finger on a gator tooth.)
Where does all that meat go afterward?
It's donated to two animal sanctuaries in California. Well, most of it, he amends: "Stagehands and production assistants probably made off with a few steaks along the way."
The Butcher, Series Premiere, Wednesday, May 22, 10/9c, History