The first of the 2008/2009 Regional Roadshow and Product Evaluation Events, organised by BPEX Ltd, was held in Peterborough last week. BPEX welcomed butchers from across the region to the East of England Showground in what was the beginning of seven separate stops around the country.
Picking up the prized title of Overall Champion was Alison Maloney, from Mike Maloney Country Butchers & Bakers Ltd, a Nottingham based retailer who wowed the judges with their speciality 'Chicken & Ham Pie with Stuffing & Cranberry', entered into the 'Cold Eating Pie' category. Alison also collected gold awards for another four products.
Alison, director at Maloney Country Butchers and Bakers Ltd - a family business with three stores trading for over 25 years - was elated with the results. She said: "The staff here all work so hard and every single one of them had some input to the products we selected and put forward for evaluation, so we're all absolutely thrilled.
"The pie has only been on sale for around a year and I was hoping that it might just achieve a gold award, so you can imagine how delighted we were when it took Category Champion and then Overall Champion!"
Father and son duo from Bradwell Butchery, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, who entered an impressive total of 11 products, also made an impact on the judges. The pair walked away as Category Champion in no less than four categories including the hugely popular 'Young Sausage Maker' category. Aspiring young butcher Ryan Edmonds triumphed with his 'Beef, Beer and Horseradish Sausage,' while his father Andrew, claimed three other category title wins with his 'Mediterranean Lamb Sausage,' 'Hand Raised Pork Pie' and 'Smoked Back Bacon.'
Ryan, a 17 year-old college student who is planning to join the family business after his studies, said: "My younger sister was actually awarded the Young Sausage Maker title the year before last, so I knew I had to submit a product that would match hers and luckily it did!"
His father Andrew added: "It's such a great achievement for Ryan, myself and all the other staff who have helped to produce such wonderful products. The highlight for me though was triumphing with the 'Hand Raised Pork Pie.'
"We entered it for evaluation two years ago and won a gold award but the judges made a comment about the pastry and it got me thinking. So we altered the pastry recipe and also started making our own pork lard to see if that would make a difference, and it did! It really goes to show that the constructive criticism you get from the judges does help and is invaluable."
BPEX butchery and product development manager, Keith Fisher, said "What a great start to the latest season of roadshows. Our congratulations go to all the category champions who once again have entered products to an exceptional standard. Those products that achieve silver awards and above really are the crème de la crème of the butchery trade and deserve recognition."
The next roadshow takes place at Sandy Park Stadium, in Exeter, Devon on 16 October 2008. For more details and to download an entry form visit www.porkforbutchers.co.uk or contact Jackie Hawkes at BPEX on 01908 844 107.