280 sausage were entered but there could be only one winner…

A Pork and Sage sausage made to a traditional recipe dating back to 1912 has been crowned the best in the catering sector!

The ‘Granddad’s Recipe, Pork and Sage Sausage’ from J C Rook & Sons was judged the best from 15 top sausages at the grand final of the BPEX Foodservice Pork Sausage of the Year competition 2011, held at Butchers Hall, London.

The fifteen finalists – first, second and third place in the competitions five categories – were whittled down by expert industry judges last month from more than 280 sausage entries. The final fifteen sausages, which all achieved gold award status, were cooked, taste tested and scored by over 30 guest judges. The results were incredibly close, but the Pork & Sage sausage, which was originally developed by Andrew Rooks grandfather, was the stand out winner with the highest combined score.

Andrew Rook was delighted with the company’s first foray into the competition, he said. “I can’t believe it; to win a national title is just incredible! The recipe itself has stood the test of time, with just a few minor tweaks. We ensure that we use good quality pork, sourced locally wherever possible, and combine these with the best ingredients. Our sausage-maker Steve Cooke, who has been with the business for over 25 years, is thrilled. This is an amazing result for the business and is testament to the quality of our ingredients and the skill of the team.”

As well as taking the Champion title, J C Rook & Sons were awarded first place in the ‘Legendary British Banger’ category, while their ‘Cumberland Pork Sausage’ was third place in the Best Pub Pork Sausage Category. “We actually put forward seven sausages,” added Andrew, “and came away with seven gold awards, two sausages in the final and the winner’s title. I think that is what you’d call a pretty fantastic result!”

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Suppliers to Shepherd Neame pubs, as well as many restaurants and clubs in the area, the company has plans to branch out further. And Andrew is already thinking about new sausage ideas that can help him retain his title. He said: “I’ve really got the bug now and will definitely be back next year. The buzz around the competition is just fantastic and we’re so proud to be such a successful part of it.”

Innovation evident in the sausage industry

A number of innovative sausages were rewarded in the competition. Winners of the ‘Best Innovative Pork Sausage’ category were John Pettit & Sons butchers, with their ‘Catalan Wheel Sausage’, which was developed for Spanish restaurant chain La Tasca. Second place was awarded to Berkins Deli and their ‘Complete Breakfast Sausage’. Created especially for the competition, the sausage recently went on sale in the Deli and sold out within the day!

Karen McQuade from the UK Foodhall was delighted with third place for their ‘Healthier Option Schools Sausage (Low Fat, Low Salt)’. She said: “To have a ‘healthier sausage’ in a national final next to a range or gourmet varieties is quite wonderful.

“Our sausages are affordable but we don’t compromise on the quality of ingredients used or the care taken to produce them. We supply over 200,000 sausages to 13,000 schools nationwide and what makes all the difference is that they know they are getting award winning products. Local authorities can take a lot of pride from that and, of course, so do we.”

BPEX foodservice trade manager Tony Goodger said: “With British Sausage Week upon us (31 October to 06 November) there is no better time to show off the amazing range of Quality Assured pork sausages available in pubs, restaurants, schools and other food outlets.

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“Sausages are incredibly important to the sector and for businesses; the recognition that comes with being a ‘national award winner’ provides a real boost – both in terms of sales and awareness, particularly as customers become increasingly interested in the food they eat. The finalists are all to be applauded for having sausages that scored almost near perfect marks. However, there can only be one winner and our congratulations go to J C Rook & Sons on their success.”

The annual BPEX competition rewards excellence and innovation in sausages produced using Quality Assured pork for the catering industry. The Red Tractor mark provides a guarantee that the pork has been produced to high animal welfare standards and is fully traceable back to the farm.

This year the competition drew a record-breaking number of chefs, catering suppliers and manufacturers across the five categories; Traditional Pork Sausage, Speciality Pork Sausage, Best Pub Sausage, Best Innovative Sausage and Legendary British Banger.

The BPEX Foodservice Sausage of the Year 2011 results:

OVERALL CHAMPION Granddad’s Recipe, Pork and Sage Sausage J C Rook & Sons Foodservice
Category 1 – Traditional Pork Sausage Category
Winner Just Pork Sausage The Eagle at Barrow
Second Place Pinjar Pork Sausage York House Foods
Third Place Gourmet Lincolnshire Sausage Snowbird Foods
Category 2 – Speciality Pork Sausage Category
Winner Farmhouse Sausage Underwood Meat Company
Second Place The Pickled Pig, Pork and Strong Real Ale Sausage A. Turner and Sons
Third Place Pork, Pear and Black Pudding Sausage Rothbury Family Butchers
Category 3 – Best Pub Pork Sausage Category
Winner Thai Lemon Grass, Garlic, Chilli and Ginger Sausage Fence Gate Inn
Second Place Pork, Leek and Bacon Sausages Cranswick Country Foods
Third Place Cumberland Pork Sausage J C Rook & Sons Foodservice
Category 4 – Best Innovative Pork Sausage Category
Winner Catalan Wheel Sausage John Pettit & Sons Limited
Second Place The Complete Breakfast Sausage Berkins Deli
Third Place Healthier Option Schools Sausage (Low Fat, Low Salt) The UK Foodhall Ltd
Category 5 – Legendary British Banger Category
Winner Granddad’s Recipe, Pork and Sage Sausage J C Rook & Sons Foodservice
Second Place Three Shires Pork, Apple and Herb Sausage Cam Family Butchers
Third Place Pork and Apple Sausage Solent Butchers Ltd
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