Eastleigh butcher wins Hampshire Fare crown

Eastleigh butcher’s LJ Smith scooped the Supreme Champion award at Hampshire Fare’s The Great Hampshire Sausage & Pie Competition, for the second year in a row.

LJ Smith, run by Pip and Donna Smith, also won the Traditional Pork Sausage and Speciality Pork Sausage awards, the latter for a pork, bacon and tomato sausage.

Commenting on gaining Supreme Champion status, Pip Smith said: “I am amazed by our win. Achieving this title reinforces our customers’ belief in what we do. It gives them confidence in our commitment to making the best products we can.

“We have been lucky enough to win this title before and it has helped bolster sales and also keep enthusiasm going in the shop.”

By winning Hampshire Fare’s competition last year, Smith gained the right to enter Meat Trades Journal’s ultimate sausage contest, Champion of Champions. For more details of this year's event click here.

Other winners among the 38 butchery businesses submitting 201 product entries were:

  • Danestream Farm shop (New Milton), which won the Hampshire Fare award
  • Tatchbury Manor Farm (New Forest), the New Forest Marque winner
  • Owtons, in the Lamb & Beef Sausage category, for its curried lamb sausage
  • Weyhill Farm Shop, recipient of the Hampshire Sausage award for its honey and game sausage
  • The Butchers Shop (Milford), which claimed the Homecured Bacon award, for its hickory smoked back bacon
  • The Hog Shack (Bishopstoke), which nailed the Meatballs and Faggots award
  • Price Farm Foods (Fordingbridge), which came top in the Traditional Pork Pies category
  • My Mum and Dad’s Kitchen (Southsea), Speciality Cold Eating Pie victor for its gluten free egg, bacon and chorizo pie
  • Mill Farm Organic (Bentley), whose lamb tagine was chosen in the Ready Meals stream
  • Ambrose Sausages (Eastleigh), which earned the Hampshire Charcuterie award
  • Tatchbury Manor Farm (New Forest), first past the post in the Black Pudding and Speciality Hot Eating Pie categories, the latter for its steak and onion entry
  • Grover Butchers’ (Chandlers Ford and Bishops Waltham) Frankie Hale won best Young Sausage Maker for an English sage, red onion and garlic sausage

“I’m really happy to have won today,” said Hale, aged 21. “I entered two years ago and didn’t win but I listened to the judge’s feedback and that’s helped me win today.

“Having the award up in the shop is a great talking point with customers. I love my job, from talking to customers to the skilfully breaking down a carcass into cuts.”

A panel of professional judges carefully examined and assessed entries, following strict national guidelines, examining external and internal appearance, texture, structure, colour, smell and taste.

Winners in each category gained bespoke trophies, made collaboratively by Hampshire companies Board ‘n’ Bread, Southampton Trophies and Jon Barrett-Danes Ceramics.

Butchers claimed other special awards, together with gold, silver and bronze trophies in key product categories at a ceremony held at the Holiday Inn in Winchester.

Paul Brolan from Danestream Farm shop, winner of the Hampshire Fare award, given for support shown to young butchers, said: “I couldn’t have asked for two nicer lads. They are punctual and hardworking. I am very proud of them.”

First time entrant Pete Williamson, from The Hog Shack in Bishopstoke, said: “I’ve entered to gain professional accreditation for what we do. We make quality products with the aim of giving our customers only the very best. It’s brilliant to have that recognised by professional judges.”

Andy Shepphard from A M Sheppard near Portsmouth won gold for his pork, leek and honey sausage and his Suthwyk Ale Sausage. “As butchers we all need to get together to fight our corner,” he said. “If we don’t keep showing off what we do we’ll disappear. People come to us for our quality. Butchers sell superior products compared to many supermarkets.”

Richard Brown, professional judge of the Hot Eating Pie category, said: “We have judged some creative and interesting products today. The finish, baking and presentation have been very high.”

Hampshire Fare commercial manager Tracy Nash summed up the day: “Today’s event is all about recognising and celebrating the talented butchers we have across Hampshire.

“Shopping at your local butcher’s shop is an opportunity to learn and try new things as service often comes with knowledge and experience.”

Hampshire Fare is also supporting the annual National Butchers’ Week, which runs from 13-19 March this year, is organised by Meat Trades Journal and is sponsored by AHDB Beef & Lamb, Puréety Gourmet Flavours and Scobie & Junor.

It is inviting shoppers to vote for their favourite butcher in the People’s Choice awards. Nominations open on 26 February and close on 12 March. Results will be revealed during National Butchers’ Week and will help raise awareness of local butchers.

The theme of National Butchers’ Week this year is innovation. Meat Trades Journal is inviting butchers to send in a recipe or product idea. All entries will be put to a Facebook vote and the overall winner will be covered in the April issue of the magazine and on the brand’s website. For more information, and to send your idea over, contact Aidan.fortune@wrbm.com or click here.

The week will be promoted using Meat Trades Journal’s Twitter account, @mtj_tweet, using the hashtag #ButchersGiveYouIdeas. Butchers holding activities and product promotions during the week should use the Twitter handle to highlight what they are doing. Visit the National Butchers’ Week website to download free point of sale kits.

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