Butchers honoured at Smithfield Star Awards
Port Glasgow butcher Robert Alexander won Best BBQ Product for its black garlic medallions of beef at this year’s Smithfield Star Awards.
Organised by the Q Guild of Butchers, the awards, which have run for more than 30 years, recognise and reward the UK’s finest craft butchery products across 13 categories, including traditional pork sausages, burgers, bacon and black pudding.
Described by judges as ”a superb product”, the BBQ dish created by Robert Alexander received top marks, beating five other finalists to secure the award.
The Port Glasgow butcher also made the shortlist with its Italian sausages and Tandoori lamb Henrys, both of which were awarded three-star status.
Products are evaluated using a one-, two- and three-star rating system with three-star products in each category then pitched against each other for the category champion Diamond Award. Products were assessed by a judging panel headed by Keith Fisher, CEO of the Institute of Meat.
Drew McKenzie from Robert Alexander said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have won the BBQ category with our black garlic medallions of beef. It’s always an honour to win against such strong competition.”
Gordon Wallace, Q Guild manager, said: “The standard of entries this year was higher than ever with a 20% increase in the number of products awarded three stars, so being crowned best in class, alongside two additional three-star awards, is no mean feat by Robert Alexander. We were delighted to present the butchers with their awards, which
are a fantastic endorsement of their products, raising standards across the board and driving product development in the craft butchery industry.”
Robert Alexander was Drew McKenzie's grandfather and Drew is the latest generation of the family to run the Scottish butchers, with other awards over the years including the Q Guild National Barbecue Champion for its coffee-crusted steak.
New for 2022 was the Platinum Jubilee Award, judged from a shortlist of the Diamond Award winners by Michelin star chef and restaurateur Angela Hartnett. The winner and crowned the overall ‘Best of the Best’ was Leamington Spa butcher Aubrey Allen for its traditional shepherds’ pie.
Awards were also presented to the Q Guild Young Butcher of the Year, Spencer Allison of Cranstons Quality Butcher + Maker in Penrith and the Q Guild Butchers Shop Promotional Meat Display, won by Buckwells of Southsea.
At the event, Angela Hartnett was presented with a donation from the Q Guild of Butchers to charity Hospitality Action.
Winner of the Platinum Jubilee Award, Ian Meek from Aubrey Allen, said: “It’s truly humbling to have won among such a strong line-up of butchers.”
Q Guild Young Butcher of the Year Spencer Allison said: “I’ve been working in the industry since I was 16 and have worked my way up, developing my skills in various different areas. Moving forwards, I’m passionate about product development and also the customer side of the business.”
This year’s sponsors were Lucas Ingredients, Innovative Food Ingredients, Scobie & Junor, DB Foods, British Charcuterie Live, Verstegen, Eat Game, Dalziel, The Worshipful Company of Butchers, Weddel Swift and The Institute of Meat.
The best of Hampshire fare
The Great Hampshire Sausage and Pie Competition, organised by Hampshire Fare, took place earlier this year at Southampton Football Club’s St Mary’s Stadium.
There were nearly 250 entries from butchers and pie-makers from across the region. Tracy Nash, commercial manager, Hampshire Fare, said: “We had a fantastic number of entries
from so many businesses, including many who hadn’t entered before and they all received high praise from our expert judges.
“The competition is a brilliant way of showcasing the quality produce available at local butchers, delis, farm shops and village stores across the region, encouraging people to shop local.”
Buckingham’s Artisan Butchery was named Supreme Champion after winning the Alternative Sausage category for a Chicken, Lemon and Tarragon Sausage. Damon and Sadie Buckingham only moved to Hampshire to open a butchery in West Meon in 2020.
“People want to know not just the provenance of their meat and its ethical journey from farm to fork; they want tips and advice to get the best meal from that meat – the butcher not just as supplier, but teacher,” said BBQ magazine editor Rupert Bates, an event sponsor.
“When it comes to different meats, cuts and recipe suggestions, the rising interest in BBQ food and outdoor cooking is a huge opportunity for the best butchers to engage with their customers – both at the counter and online – keeping it local and keeping it personal.”
Sponsors of the 2022 competition were Angel Refrigeration, BCoT, BBQ magazine, Powder Monkey Brewing Company, Dalziel Retail Butchery, Lucas Ingredients, NFU Mutual Winchester and Wickham and Southampton FC.
Team GB Butchers announces MRC sponsorship
MRC has become a sponsor of Team GB butchery, as the team prepares for the World Butchers’ Challenge in Sacramento, California in September.
MRC (Manchester Rusk Company) is a family run, privately owned business born into the British butchery trade over 40 years ago, producing marinades, seasonings and sauces. MRC has launched over 60 products, adding flavour and innovation to counters across the UK.
Its products include its Red Tub range of glazes, Sauce Jars for butchers to prepare meals for customers to take home and even a paste collaboration with Guinness.
“We’re really excited to be sponsoring Team GB. There’s a lot of talent in the group and it’s an honour to have them using MRC products,” said Olivia Parkes, brand manager for butchery at MRC.
“Being a British business with a lot of heritage, we felt a natural connection with the team. Our passion for the industry is at the heart of everything we do. Beyond supplying marinades and sauces, we’re committed to fuelling the growth of British butchery, so competitions like the World Butchers’ Challenge really shine a light on the craftsmanship and care that goes into the trade.”
Simon Taylor (right) of Surrey Hills Butchers and captain of Team GB said: “We’re delighted to have MRC supporting and sponsoring us. Having used their products myself for years, it is safe to say all butchers’ shops across the UK will be familiar with their red tubs and huge range of seasonings.”
He added that MRC’s minty lamb glaze and Chinese seasoning were “absolute butcher classics”.
“MRC are always bringing out new flavour, which is great for the product development within our team. We had at great first training season at MRC in May, sharing ideas and getting creative.”
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