A TOOWOOMBA butcher has taken out the title of Queensland’s best ham.
Gray’s Modern Meat Mart entered an about 8kg ham into the Royal Queensland Show and took out first place in the boneless ham category in the ham, bacon and small goods competition.
Owner Mark Nolan said he was surprised at taking out the win, having previously won in 2011 and 2014, going on to win second in Australia and third in Australia in the same years for best ham with bone.
“I was surprised I won actually. I didn’t try anything different, I just grabbed one out of the window,” he said.
While he had not done anything different, Mr Nolan said it was the “old fashioned” way he made his hams that was the point of difference.
“They are pickled and salted and then soaked in a brine for about two or three days and then they are dried and smoked with wood and cooked,” he said.
“So you get that real smoky flavour.
“Most hams made today are done as fast as possible. They are only artificially flavoured.”
Mr Nolan started making hams about 19 years ago when he first bought the shop, a skill he taught himself.
These days, people come from all over to purchase meat from him, including from Chinchilla and the Gold Coast.
Mr Nolan said entering into this sort of competition gave them the reassurance they were doing a good job as well as showing others how they were doing.
And if their awards are anything to go by, they are doing very well, with numerous accolades for ham as well as bacon and sausages.
Mr Nolan said they made all of their products by hand and sourced all their meat from local areas, including their pork from the Pilton Valley.
“In small business today you have got to be different, you have got to stand out,” he said.
“You can’t just sell cheap ham and cheap sausages because it is not going to work.
“I think customers have got to realise, it is like the dairy industry. If you don’t support dairy, if you don’t support local businesses like butcher shops and fruit shops, they are going to be gone.”
Mr Nolan explained that by supporting them, customers were also supporting the local families that supplied his shop.
“The price of meat is getting quite expensive, which makes it a bit harder for the consumer,” he said.
“But the biggest threat is not actually the price of meat, it’s takeaway. The new generation is not actually cooking as much as they used to.”
Mr Nolan’s ham will now head to the national level of the competition, with the winner to be announced later this year.
Gray’s Modern Meat Mart, which is also the oldest butcher shop in Toowoomba, is at 138 South St.
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