Winners of National Meat Products and Premier Young Butcher competitions named

The National Federation of Meat and Food Traders (NFMFT) has announced the winners of its annual National Meat Products Competition and Premier Young Butcher 2017 award. 

The competition saw butchers, farm shops and food processors enter products into 22 categories. These included best sausage, burger, bacon, charcuterie and pastry products, with the entries evaluated by a team of 12 judges.

The Supreme Champion award was given to Alison Mellors of Malloney’s for her traditional pork pie, while David Purser, from the Master Butcher, took the Supreme Sausage Champion award for his traditional pork sausage. This year included a brand new award, Young Sausage Maker, which was given to Henry Jackman of Carnivore Foods for a honey and mustard sausage.

“I’m shocked to have won, because when my wife attends I never win anything,” said Purser. “She hasn’t attended today, and I won! She won’t believe me when I tell her. My products must have stood out because I use asparagus – I come from the best asparagus area in the country.”

There were a total of 144 gold, 70 silver and 23 bronze prizes presented to products in the categories that met the judges’ required standards. Roger Kelsey, chief executive of the NFMFT, presented the awards. He said: “We had a fantastic response this year and just under 300 products entered.”

Meanwhile, James Gracey won the Premier Young Butcher 2017 award, an event also organised by NFMFT.

Gracey, of Quails of Dromore in Northern Ireland, is studying with Southern Regional College. The young butcher beat competition from Jack Eagles of C Lidgate in London, Elsie Yardley of Hard’s of Halstead, and Thomas Lea of Walter Smith, to win the trophy.

“It has been hectic, I’ve come from Northern Ireland and have been preparing since I arrived,” commented Gracey. “You enter the competition because you want to win, but to actually win is brilliant. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Head judge and chief executive of the Institute of Meat Keith Fisher said these kinds of competition were important for the future of the industry. “It has been superb, we’ve had a very successful show,” he said. “It’s about the fifth or sixth time I’ve been head judge and, every year, the competitors throw out something new. Competitions like these are important for the next generation. The skill level of these young people is great. Winning events like these builds their confidence and helps them get further in the industry.”

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