Felix Bishop and Aidan Mason quickly became best mates on their first day of Year 7 at Orange High School.
Now in their late 20s the Orange butchers are about to own and operate a business together.
They're in the final stages of buying Trunkey Bacon & Pork.
"For a couple of young dudes and best mates to do this, we're feeling pretty damn lucky," Mr Bishop said.
"The timing of it all, it's like it just sorted itself out and it's a real 'full circle' moment for us, where it's coming to a head right now and our dreams are slowly becoming a reality."
Early Trunkey days; a culinary unfolding
The early school-leavers each started at the Trunkey Creek meat business as apprentices - Felix was 14 at the time, Aidan was 16 years old.
With entry and exit times crossing over, Felix went abroad at age 18 and worked as a chef in overseas kitchens during his travels.
Returning to run Patina's cellar doors before managing Summer Street's Washington and Co bar for a few years to October 2022, he wound up right back at Trunkey headquarters.
"Being a young lad I'd always love those market days, whether it was in Sydney, Orange or Bathurst, because you'd be surrounded by awesome producers who'd come together and talk about what they loved in the industry, just like I loved it," Felix said.
"So I've always held those experiences really dear and being a young dude exposed to this authentic style of food and creativity when working with it, I felt lucky to be around such genuine people all the time."
Aidan, now 28, manned the fort back home in Orange during Felix's years abroad, holding his butchering role with Trunkey to this day.
Though they've each cherished the fact that their journeys started with that first-time opportunity there; an experience they've remained extremely grateful for.
"I've been here for about 10 or 11 years now, it's been the best job and the rest has always felt like history since starting here," Aidan Mason said.
"And it's always been a honour to supply people a product that's so well-known and held in such high regard, so this is a really proud venture coming up for us."
'This is actually really doable for us'
In the final copy of agreements stage as papers change hands from the D'Souza family, the young lads are both "feeling pumped" to move forward with the Trunkey business.
With the official date confirmed for April 3, Felix and Aidan said they've (well and truly) got the foundation of trust already sorted.
Gearing up to supply Orange FOOD Week's top chefs, they're feeling confident in the transition - from butchers, to butcher shop owners and operators.
"I think working in kitchens and managing [front-of-house] has given me an important tool, I got to see where there was a bit of a divide between butchers and chefs in the hospitality sector and how to close that gap," Felix said.
"From years of networking and building contacts between both of us, we're also not scrambling for suppliers or having to make contacts from scratch; we're essentially working alongside some of our closest mates already in the industry.
"So when Trunkey was sitting on the market, we thought 'hang on, this is actually really doable for us'."
'Flat-stick' and digging it
Watching the culinary scene morph with the "buzzing energy" it has today, the pair have seen firsthand how the industry has grown.
It's another reason why they're busting to get formal business-owning going, where the food and beverage front has never felt more lively.
They've "already seeing that ball rolling" in the Central West.
"It's really easy for us to feel that passion in the air, it's a tough one to explain but it's absolutely there and that's another level of excitement," Felix, 27, said.
"We're seeing people we met when we were only young and it's busy as all hell now, but we love being flat-stick and we're working towards ramping it up even more.
"Orange has so much going for it and it's only getting better; the food's getting fresher, people are bouncing off each other's creativity.
"The timing could not be more perfect."
Buds who butcher together, stay together
Not "just dealing in bacon and pork" alone, the duo want people from far and wide to know more about Orange.
The current foodie "boom" evident, Aidan said the best part isn't just getting stuck in with the emerging chapter.
It's the fact he'll have his his favourite pal in tow for the ride.
"It's just the next step in life and we wanted to take this one," he said.
We both know we can this and I couldn't think of anyone better to do it with.- Trunkey's Aidan Mason.
"To go from walking home one day, finding your best mate that same afternoon and now here we are 15 years later about to officially take on a butcher shop together.
"Everything's really fallen into place."
WHAT DO YOU THINK? We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on the Central Western Daily website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. Sign up for a subscription here.