Champion of Champions 2016 winner crowned

JC Rook & Sons has been named the winner of Champion of Champions 2016 at an event held in London’s St Bart’s Brewery on Monday 10 October. 

The winning sausage, ‘Grandad’s Recipe Pork & Sage’, overcame competition from 20 other award-winning sausages from across the country.

Andrew Rook, who produced the overall champion, said that being crowned the winner was a “sensational feeling”.

“There are many things that make it special for me,” he told Meat Trades Journal. “First of all, it is genuinely my grandad’s recipe. He had a genuine recipe from 1912 and then, from the 1930s, he used that to develop his recipe and in 1964 opened our first shop.

“It’s always nice to think back on family and the legacy that he has given me; the passion to make sausages and other products to the best of my ability.”

Rook, alongside his cousin Christopher, is a third-generation butcher. The Kent-based company now has 11 shops, as well as an online store.

According to Rook, the success at this year’s Champion of Champions is expected to boost sausage sales by £2,000.

“Whenever you win anything, you get it out there under the customers’ nose,” he explained. “You put taste testers on top of the counter. You get everything so the whole thing works together. There’s no point saying you have a certificate, or even putting the certificate on the wall. Shout about it. Get everybody in the shop buzzing about it. It’s great for staff morale.”

The winning sausage was decided after an extensive morning of judging from industry professionals: Keith Fisher, chief executive of the Institute of Meat; Roger Kelsey, chief executive of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders; butcher Keith Boxley; independent consultant Fred A’Court; Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB) Beef & Lamb independent retail sector manager Mike Richardson; and Meat Trades Journal editor Rod Addy.

“The winning sausage was well put together, it was well filled, well linked – there were no cavities or air pockets, and there was a fresh herby flavour that came through, which made it stand out from the crowd,” commented Fisher.

“Competitions like this are important because they raise the bar across the whole of the industry,” he added. “I run a number of other competitions and evaluation events and I know that this particular competition sets a very high standard. The number of entries that I get in through other competitions are there primarily because they want that route through to Champion of Champions.”

The winning product was also praised by A'Court, who said: "In most years there’s usually an extended debate among the judges about which is the best sausage before a decision is reached but this year the winner was clearly ahead of the others and the decision quickly reached.

"It was well constructed with a good, even mix, a skin that held the filling together well without splits or shrinkage during cooking and a taste that was flavoursome and juicy with a slight but distinctive tang to it. Simply on appearance it even looked the best.”

Champion of Champions was kindly sponsored by AHDB Pork, Viscofan and Lucas Ingredients.

2016 Champion of Champion Finalists:

Complete Meats - Pork and Otter Ale Sausage

Vaughans Family Butchers - Traditional Pork Sausage

The Alma Inn & Dining Room - The Alma (Spicy Pork)

Kennedy & Son - Moroccan Lamb Sausage

Kennedy & Son - Pork and Black Pepper Sausage

Craig Finch Butchers - Aussie Lamb Sausage

Craig Finch Butchers - Pork and Leek Sausage

Smith Butchers - Pork, Bacon & Tomato Sausage

George H Pickings - Pork, Spicy Tomato & Sticky Onion Sausage

Allan Bennett Butchers - Lincolnshire Pork Sausage

Allan Bennett Butchers - Beef and Horseradish Sausage

Greens of Pangbourne - Pork Original

Rothbury Family Butchers - Traditional Pork Sausage

Team GB - Pork & Cracked Black Pepper Sausage

Simpsons Butchers - Lincolnshire Sausage

H Clewlow Butchers - Chicken Lemon & Ginger Sausage

Dales Traditional Butchers - Pork & Caramel Sausage

Bolster Moor Farm Shop - Thick Pork Sausage

The Sausage Shed - Pork with Caramelised Onion and Balsamic Vinegar Sausage

EWS Butchers - Pineapple, Bacon, Cheese Pork Sausage

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