Photos & Story by Vivienne Pearson
Where does a butcher take his annual holiday? At the Australian Meat Industry Council’s National competition, of course.
Ocean Shores Butcher Garry Leeson, as well as his partner in business and life, Felicity Hanna, already have their 2017 holiday planned. They will visit Tasmania, where they will again compete for the title of Sausage King. They won the title in 2014, were runner-up in 2015 but missed out on the chance to compete in 2016 thanks to ‘only’ coming second in the state level competition.
Garry has entered the poultry section of the sausage competition since 2011, encouraged by customers who kept telling him how much they loved his sausages. ‘We entered a duck and orange sausage and were runner up, so we knew we were onto something,’ says Garry. He continued to experiment with recipes (‘Our son does a lot of the tasting,’ Garry says) and this year are showcasing their chicken, spinach and macadamia sausage.
Other categories emphasize tradition but the poultry section rewards strong flavor and innovation – with the caveat that the entry needs to be commercially available from the butcher.
Both Felicity and Garry grew up on land in this area. ‘I used to drive trucks and harvesters and kill sheep,’ says Felicity of her time on a 10,000 acre farm. Garry’s grandfather was an early pioneer at Whian Whian and Garry grew up on a dairy farm before heading to the Northern Territory to work. This is where he learned to make buffalo smallgoods, something he still does, with the help of a small smoker at the back of their shop.
Felicity and Garry started their butcher shop in Ocean Shores 25 years ago. ‘It was all grass out there,’ says Garry pointing towards the large carpark. ‘It was just us and an independent supermarket.’ Needless to say, their shop is a fair bit busier than it was in those days, and they appreciate the extra pair of hands of nearly-finished apprentice Luke who has worked there since he was in high school. Garry reports a culture of friendly rivalry in the sausage and smallgoods industry. He sees the awards as a way of ‘trying to lift the level through competition’. Wishing someone luck isn’t a usual thing to do before a holiday but in Garry and Felicity’s case, it is the perfect send-off.
Ocean Shores Butcher is at Shop 12, Ocean Shores Shopping Centre, Rajah Road. Mon–Fri 7am–5pm and Saturdays 7am–noon.