Champion of Champions!
A Blackmore Vale butchers shop has won one of the most prestigious awards in the meat industry for their sausages. T Buttling Butchers of Ludwell near Shaftesbury, work to a closely guarded family recipe and have been entering the Champion of Champions competition for around 20 years. This year their traditional pork and sage sausage won the judges over.
The Champion of Champions award is run by the Meat Trades Journal with butchers entering their finest sausages from all over the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is unique in presenting the best quality sausages. There are regional finals which T Buttling has won several times and they have also been finalists, so clearly something was more than just good. The 2020 competition was judged on 7 July in Crawley with T Buttling receiving the prestigious trophy for producing the best sausages in the UK and Ireland.
Paul Buttling explained how the finals worked. “We have to submit six raw sausages and six cooked ones. There are 50 points to be won both for raw and cooked products. The competition used to be at Butchers Hall in London, and then a top hotel, but this year because of COVID, everything was online so I delivered the sausages to the headquarters in Crawley and had to turn the car round.”
My mind is racing just thinking about how where you even start with judging a sausage. Paul outlined what the judges look for and it all comes down to the finest quality: “With raw sausages it’s all about the filling, the texture, and the size as well as the smell. Cooked sausages are judged on shrinkage, any defects such as air pockets, and of course the taste. It is quite technical, but the judges are looking for a succulent well-filled product.”
The Champion of Champions cup is proudly displayed on the shop counter above the award winning sausages. On the back wall, among the diagrams of prime cuts of meat are several other trophies. They also won the 2020 Craft Butcher Awards for their pork sausage. T Buttling have been quietly selling award wining meat for years, something Paul sees as a team effort and not an individual success. Fellow butchers Dave Smart and Allan Seldon along with colleague Mario were all in on the win. But what do the local customers think?
“They told us ‘we always knew you were winners. We always knew the quality was good’,” smiles Paul. T Buttling is a fourth generation butchery. The family has been in the meat trade since 1898, firstly in London until the family moved to Wiltshire and took over the Ludwell premises in 1978. All the meat is sourced locally but Paul also looks for quality in his suppliers.
So what difference has the Champion of Champions competition made to the industry nationally? Roger Kelsey, one of the judges from National Craft Butchers summed it up.” I’ve been judging competitions for 30 or 40 years. I have to say that over the years the standard of sausage making in this country is so much better than when I started.”
So what’s next for the Champion of Champions winners? “ We’ll look at another competition for a different type of meat,” says Paul. As if the standard can’t get much better at T Buttling, I’d say we’re in for a treat in the Blackmore Vale with local businesses like this one having a constant eye on driving up quality for customers. And the judges were right- those sausages are outstanding and absolutely delicious.
By: Rachael Rowe