WARRNAMBOOL, Portland and Mortlake have some of the best independent butchers in Victoria, according to Meat Industry Australia Council member David Wiese.
Mr Wiese is a retailer and owns Warrnambool Country Meats. He said the high quality of the region’s meat vendors was demonstrated by their strong results at the Australian Meat Industry Council Sausage King Competition south-west Victorian final, held at South West TAFE last month.
Butchers from Geelong, Warrnambool, Queenscliff, Portland and Mortlake competed for the distinguished tag of 2014 Victorian sausage king, smallgoods maker or best hamburger.
In the sausage section, Norfolk Butchers’ Bill and Adam Gee won gold with their continental sausage, as did Mr Wiese. Lucas Brothers Butchers’s Pete Harris claimed silver and Norfolk Butchers received a bronze medal.
Mortlake butcher Brendan Bouchier won three gold medals for smallgoods — his ham on and off the bone and strasburg.
He was also awarded two bronze medals: for chicken and cheese cabana and short rindless bacon. It is the sixth year in a row Mr Bouchier has won gold for his ham on the bone.
Portland’s Halliday Butchers’ Andrew Welfare won the inaugural best burger category.
Mr Wiese entered his Italian casalinga sausages, winning a gold medal this year after placing the previous two years.
Lucas Brothers Butchers owner/manager Pete Harris entered his Texan chili sausage in the gourmet/open class.
“I only took over 12 months ago so it was my first time in it,” Mr Harris said.
“I was glad to get a silver medal. I had a recipe from a supplier but I’ve added a few things to it, secret herbs and spices. It’s promoting good products that are available in the region.”
The first placegetters earned the chance to represent their region in the State Sausage King competition to be held on July 3 in Melbourne.
Mr Harris said the south-west had good quality meat. He purchased his beef and lamb locally and was stringent when it came to quality goods.
“The smaller blokes like Pete and I, if it turns up on a truck and we’re not happy with it, we send it back. We pick the best for our customers in Warrnambool and the district. It’s as simple as that,” Mr Wiese said.
They said the competition fostered a healthy, enjoyable banter between the butchers and encouraged them to improve their products and create different recipes.
“I think it just promotes a bit of competition amongst butchers to promote a good quality item,” Mr Wiese said.
“The competition, it really does really push butchers. We’re all competitive, we don’t want to come second.”
The council and Meat and Livestock Australia meetings allow butchers to share ideas while strengthening networks between the members.
“To share ideas amongst everybody works well. It really does strengthen the independent butchers to open up and talk to each other and that was part of the reason I nominated for the AMI council. It was more about getting out there and meeting people in the industry,” Mr Wiese said.