WESTERN Australian butchers provided the lion’s share of winners in the National final of the Australian Meat Industry Council’s ever-popular Sausage Kings competition held in Fremantle on the weekend.
Finalists from six Australian states competed in beef, lamb, pork, gourmet, continental and poultry sausage divisions, after earning the right to represent their states in regional Sausage Kings competitions held over the past 12 months.
Judges scored entries on visual presentation in both raw and cooked state, as well as flavour, texture juiciness and overall liking in the tasting component.
The event culminated in a glittering awards dinner saluting the efforts of independent retail butchers held at Fremantle’s Esplanade Hotel on Saturday night.
Crowned National Sausage King in the beef (traditional Australian) division this year was Barbaro Brothers Quality Butchers from the northern Perth suburb of Greenwood.
Barbaro Brothers is among the most heavily awarded sausage kings competitors in the event’s 25 year history, earning eight or nine national titles over the years, particularly in the chicken and beef sausage divisions. The butchery also claimed the 2019 poultry division national crown, repeating last year’s result.
The Barbaro family has operated their retail business for the past 33 years, with the second generation of family members now serving customers.
“The reaction has been huge, since the results were announced on Saturday night,” Stefan Barbaro told Beef Central.
“There are already around 800 likes on our initial facebook post, and we did a segment on the Sunrise morning TV program on Sunday morning.”
He said there was always a sharp spike in sales after winning a national Sausage Kings title, and with good barbecuing weather still around, it was likely to happen again this year.
Mr Barbaro said the three key factors in producing an award-winning sausage were “quality ingredients, taking your time, and making the product with love.”
One feature which sets Barbaro Brothers’ raw material apart from other butchers is that the family operates its own cattle farm, producing 98 percent of the shop’s carcase beef requirements.
“We find the quality of our beef certainly makes a difference,” Mr Barbaro said.
The family bought the farm, near Mogumber, 115km north of Perth about nine years ago. Contract processing is done at Gin Gin Meat Processors.
While it originally bred calves, the turnaround time in breeding stock provide to be too long for the shop’s requirements, so the operation now buys weaners to background and grow out, mostly on grass, but as is common in WA, supplemented with grain and stored forage during the summer low cycle.
The national title-winning beef sausages entered in this year’s Sausage Kings retail in the Barbaro Brothers shop for $16.99/kg – a long way from the budget $4-$5 ‘mystery bags’ that some butchers tended to offer years ago.
“We see no resistance whatsoever from customers at that price point. In fact I have seen butchers charging up to $22.99/kg for a beef sausage. It’s about the quality of the product – once a customer has tasted it, there’s no push-back, for what is a top quality product.”
Barbaro Brothers’ winning beef sausage, in a natural casing, has ‘a bit of texture’, without being coarsely ground, but using the right meat and preparation was the key.
“Winning one of these Sausage Kings national titles is a strong recognition for the shop, and what we are trying to offer customers, Mr Barbaro said.
“We like to think that we have a hard-earned reputation, especially for our sausages, and this reminds everyone that we have not dropped the ball, and are trying to stay strong.”
The Barbaro Brothers’ national title-winning poultry sausage was a chicken bratwurst, a popular line through the retail store.
In other results, Victorian butcher Pierre Mastromanno from Piero’s Meat Merchant, in the Melbourne suburb of Highett, won this year’s National Sausage Kings Gourmet/Open sausage crown with a Wagyu beef chorizo creation.
The winning entries retail for $24.99/kg in the Piero’s Meat Merchant shop.
Other 2019 national winners included:
Several other AMIC awards were announced at the event on Saturday night, including National Apprentice of the Year Jacob Camilleri, from CHOP Artisan Butchery, Rouse Hill NSW. Beef burger national champion was Stefan Millin, from Millin’s Free Range Butchery, Balgowlah Heights, NSW, while gourmet burger winner was Milan Matutinovich from The Corner Butchers, Herne Hill WA, with a Dorper lamb burger.
Organised by the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), the Sausage Kings competition attracts huge interest from the nation’s 3200 independent butchers and is widely regarded as the meat industry’s premier competition.
“Every year we are amazed at the interest we receive from butchers across Australia from country towns to capital cities,” said AMIC chief executive, Patrick Hutchinson.
“It’s an event that just gets bigger and shows that butchers still play an important role.”
And the statistics prove it: each year, Australians spend $660 million on about 94 million kilograms of sausages. Despite the growing popularity of gourmet varieties, the traditional beef banger remains the most popular.