Q: What happened when Ludlow butcher Paul Buttling won an award that recognised his sausages as the best in the country?
A: He sold 4,500 of his champion pork and sage sausages in a week, 50% more than he sold the previous week!
The annual Meat Trades’ Journal competition is for independent butchers, and the Champion of Champions accolade is one that Paul has sought for two decades. “Dad used to attend southwest meetings of the National Federation of Meat Traders and won awards for his sausages many a time. That’s how it started,” said Paul.
You can see several trophies and certificates on the wall of their shop. But it was national recognition that the family sought for many years. “I’ve put my sausages in for the national Meat Trades competition about 10 times over the past 20 years. Not bad for a little old back-end country butcher to come out on top!”
The family buy most of their meat from a farmer in Taunton, and the pigs are reared in Devizes. The sausages are processed in the shop, with several varieties including pork with apricot or tomato and basil.
But the pork and sage has always been the main winner, selling on average 3,000 sausages a week (500lbs).
“When it came to competition, the cooking always seemed to be the problem,” he said. “But I think I’ve worked it out now. It’s all about level heat cooking the sausage all over and keeping it rolling for about 10 minutes. I’ve just won it, so that’s it. I will enter again – that was the hard bit, winning our first one.”
Paul and his parents moved from a butcher’s business in London in 1978 to take over the shop in Ludlow. Paul was just 17, and he studied at Salisbury Tech with a view to going into building. But it didn’t pan out that way.
“I never intended to get involved but the business started to grow, and Dad needed another pair of hands. “Mum put on a bit of emotional blackmail and that was it!”
His dad Tom died last December. “It’s funny. “I’ve got a picture drawing of him in the office and one evening last week, I looked up and it looked like he was smiling. It was spooky.”
Thank you all so, so much for the love and appreciation you’ve shown us since we launched the New Blackmore Vale.