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Byron Shire
September 29, 2023

A trifecta of sausages

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Story and photos by Vivienne Pearson

Ocean Shores butcher Garry Leeson has taken out third place in the poultry section of the National Sausage King competition held recently in Hobart. This means he holds a trifecta of awards, previously having been runner-up (2015) and overall winner (2014).

Gary’s Chickadamia sausage (yep, that’s chicken and macadamia flavoured, along with spinach) impressed the judging panel with its taste, texture and originality. Two of the judges, Steve Fleming and Royston Bennett, visited Gary last week to further congratulate him on his win.

Does a cute name such as Chickadamia help a sausage win? ‘It’s not one of the scoring elements,’ says Steve. ‘But a good name is important as it will stick in the mind of the consumer.’ The winning sausage of the Open section this year was an entry from South Australia, called a Mississippi, courtesy of its smoky bourbon flavour.

Of the competition overall, Royston, who has been a judge for nine years, says the quality was the highest he’s ever seen.

Steve, who has judged for five years, says he eats his fair share of sausages over a typical year. ‘I reckon it’s around 1,600 a year,’ says Steve. ‘Quite a lot are at competitions, and then there are my social ones on top of that.’

Steve explains that each sausage is scored out of 50 points by a range of judges, including industry experts (TAFE teachers and chefs), experienced sponsors and consumers. The latter surprises me but, as Steve points out: ‘At the end of the day, it’s what sells that matters’.

Steve and Royston work for AMISTSuper, the Australian Meat Industry Super Fund. ‘We spend our days in butcher shops,’ they say. So what makes a good butcher shop? ‘Presentation is important, as is their involvement in the community but it’s all about the butcher,’ says Steve. ‘Customers judge a butcher on their product and how they share their knowledge and tips. It comes down to the person.’

Gary is so dedicated to his work that he takes his only annual holiday around attending the competition. He says the sniffer dogs at the Hobart airport thought all their Christmases had come at once when he walked by with his carefully insulated package of sausages!

So how was his holiday? Let’s just say it was a winner.

Ocean Shores Butcher: Shop 12, Ocean Shores Shopping Centre, Rajah Road. Mon–Fri 7am–5pm and Saturdays 7am–noon.

Royston, Gary, Luke and Steve_OS Butcher_Feb17-Square

Gary (holding the trophy) and Luke (holding a celebratory champagne), flanked by judges Royston Bennett and Steve Fleming.

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