This year over 50 butchers were in the running for 'best bacon' and 'best ham' at the NZ Pork Awards. Country Life goes behind the scenes.
NZ Pork Deputy Chair Steve Kidby says the aim of the NZ Pork Awards is to support local pig farmers and celebrate some of our best homegrown pork products. Award-winners get their trophies at an annual dinner which was held in Christchurch in late July.
This year there were over 200 entries from around 50 butchers around the country - all vying for top honours in a range of categories including supreme champion bacon and ham.
Judging for the awards took place at the Wellington Institute of Technology's School of Hospitality where a team of chefs, master butchers and food connoisseurs assembled for a day of sampling and scrutinising.
Judging is a marathon, rather than a short sprint.
Head judge and chef Anita Sarginson says experienced judges know they need to pace themselves -and look after their palates. "In some categories of bacon they've got up to 45 different entries to sample, so it's really important they take breaks and refresh their palates with mineral water or juice."
NZ Pork's Steve Kidby says judging is a lot harder than it looks. He says he joined the judging panel a few years ago eager to try some of the good quality bacon on offer from New Zealand's top butchers. "By the end of the day I didn't want to see another piece of bacon for a month."
Steve says he's now back eating bacon. "But only the good stuff - only the good stuff."
This years' winners included Thames Valley Bacon for Best Bacon and Akaroa Butchery and Deli for Best Ham.