Inverclyde butcher crowned Q Guild UK BBQ supreme champion
Drew McKenzie of Robert Alexander Butchers in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, Scotland, was crowned the overall supreme barbecue champion in the UK final of the Q Guild 2016 BBQ competition on Sunday 15 May.
McKenzie qualified for the national final after winning the Scottish regional Speciality Barbecue Product category with a Coffee Crusted BBQ Steak.
The winning cut, which can now boast being the Q Guild’s best barbecue product across the nation, is a fillet of steak marinated in a rub of ground coffee, seasoned with salt, sugars and spices.
“We prefer to work with handy-sized beef cattle and like our beef well hung,” said McKenzie. “Our Coffee Crusted BBQ Steak was first introduced for last year’s barbecue season and is already a really good seller.
“We use finely ground coffee. The outside of the steak caramelises really quickly, creating a crust, while the inside remains very moist. It has a unique taste – the flavours are fantastic.
“We were over the moon to win through to the UK final with not one, but three products,” added McKenzie.
“We were up against some of the finest butchers in the country, so to first become national champion, then overall supreme champion is one of our highest-ever accolades. We are absolutely delighted and it reflects great credit on the entire team here at Robert Alexander Butchers.”
Meanwhile, H Clewlow Butchers from Nantwich in Cheshire, 2015 Q Guild supreme BBQ champion, was named Speciality Sausage champion with its Chicken Lemon and Ginger Sausage.
Produced using meat from British chickens only, shop owner Charles Clewlow, who introduced the innovative sausages late last summer, said they were a “refreshing alternative” on the classic sausage.
“It’s very, very low in fat, and the lemon and ginger marry well with the chicken,” said Clewlow. “We clinched the 2015 supreme championship with our Thai Pork Medallions, and our latest national winner, Chicken Lemon and Ginger Sausage, also has an Oriental feel to it, so we seem to be developing something of a speciality in this field. We are delighted to have won this latest high-profile national award.”
Frasers Butchers in Bolton, also a two-time national finalist, was crowned UK Beef Burger champion with a ‘Mega Burger’, consisting of an 8oz burger handcrafted in-house using locally sourced prime beef topside and skirt with a basic seasoning.
Surrey-based Black Barn Butchers won the Speciality Burger champion title with a Juicy Lucifer Burger.
Shop manager Damon Buckingham, who created the recipe, said the business was “over the moon”.
“The Juicy Lucifer is a beef burger made from brisket with a three-chilli burger seasoning, fresh chillies and jalapeño cheese,” he said.
“It is really hot. I was a bit worried it was too hot! It’s really popular in the shop. We started doing it about six months ago, along with two other burgers, and all three of them are really popular.”
Nottingham’s Barlows Butchers won through to the naked steak category national final with its Midlands regional victor, a Himalayan salt-aged sirloin.
“I’m overwhelmed,” explained Scott Barlow from the shop. “It’s a tough competition – every single butcher here sells good steaks. We normally dry-age our steaks for 90 days, but for this one we took it up to 100 days. We’ve got a Himalayan salt chamber – the salt slowly seasons the meat and enables us to age it for longer.
“I only use a local farmer, Peter Routledge, who is a quarter of a mile away from us. We sell a lot of steak in the shop – we have a massive steak trade and it’s particularly good for barbecues.”
Walter Smith Fine Foods from Melbick won the national pork sausage champion with its Packington Free Range Pork Sausage.
“This is a fantastic Walter Smith and Team Melbick’s achievement,” said shop manager Mark Healey. “It’s a great accolade for all the hard work that goes into producing this sausage week in week out.
“It’s nice to be able to put something on top of the counter to show for it. It’s the free-range Packington pork that makes the difference in these sausages.”
Q Guild national chairman Mark Turnbull commended the high level of entrants. “The BBQ Competition saw an extremely high standard of entries and was fiercely fought out between all finalists,” he said.
“I would like to offer hearty congratulations to all those who succeeded in making it to the finals, as winning a regional event is, in itself, no easy feat. In the end, the category winners really have proved themselves to be the cream of the crop and I wish to congratulate them all on their achievement.
“The biggest congratulations naturally have to go to Robert Alexander Butchers for winning the Supreme BBQ Championship award,” he added. “Their Coffee Crusted BBQ Steak was a worthy overall victor and we can all look forward to trying out this fantastic product in our shops very soon.”
This year’s competition, which saw a record number of entrants at nearly 400, was sponsored by Innovative Food Ingredients, Dalziel, DB Foods, The Dalesman Group, Scobie & Junor and Bäro Lighting.
“The weekend was a huge success and, as well as a hotly contested BBQ Competition, we had a very beneficial conference that delivered ideas and inspiration for all those attending,” concluded Turnbull. “The Q Guild continues to go from strength to strength.”
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