Friendly rivals, Wedderburn’s Steel’s Butchers and Boort’s Arnold Family Butchers excelled at the recent regional Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) Sausage King Awards.
Steel’s Butchers won in three categories, beating competitors across the North West Region, with judging held in Mildura.
Its wins came in the bacon, ham on the bone, and ham off the bone classes, while the Wedderburn shop also managed to come runner up in the Strasbourg section.
“Everything we sell in the shop we make here,” said Cameron Steel who owns the shop along with partner Tammy Martin.
Arnold Family Butchers had a win of its own with its beef burgers.
The Boort shop of Kristy and Jye Arnold was also runner up in four categories.
Two of those were for its barbecue sausages and English pork sausages.
The others involved direct competition with near rival Steel’s Butchers, these being for bacon and ham on the bone.
The bond between Steel’s and Arnold’s goes beyond the geographical proximity of the shops.
Cameron Steel did his apprenticeship under Jye Arnold.
“We’re good mates with Steely. So I thought, well we’ve beaten him a couple of years in a row. It was his turn to have a bit of a win against us. But I’m not going to tell him that,” Kristy Arnold said.
Arnold Family Butchers has won best boneless ham in the State the last two years and Steel’s Butchers has a chance to go one better, with an expansion of national competition.
National honours were not previously available for any smallgood categories, but ham and bacon winners at State level are now eligible.
All winning products at regional level can be entered in State competition.
State level judging takes part in August, with a gala dinner later in the year affording butchers a chance to dress up and network with others in the industry.
While rivalry may be friendly, success in competition provides a real lift for business Kristy Arnold explained.
“People drive through the town and see ‘Sausage King Winner’. It actually draws them into the shop.”