The humble snag gets an aristocratic makeover in February when the 2020 Sausage King winners are crowned at a gala event run by the Australian Meat Industry Council in Terrigal, NSW.
Every year, dozens of independent butchers from across the country vie for the chance to participate in the ultimate sausage sizzle, battling their way through regional and state heats to earn a spot at the finals. In February, 30 state finalists will head to the Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific on the NSW Central Coast, where a team of expert judges will determine the best bangers.
There are six crowns up for grabs - one each for the creator of the best beef, pork, poultry, lamb, continental and gourmet sausage.
AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson says the competition sounds like a bit of fun, and it is, but there's a serious side to it.
"Aussies love sausages and butchers love producing great products. So while the Sausage King competition is definitely a good time, the judging is serious business. Judges are industry professionals who score both raw and cooked sausages, grading them for flavour and texture as well as shrinkage, splitting and crinkling," he said.
"Finalists have to meet a range of stringent criteria. In particular, they must ensure their sausages meet Australian Food Standards Code by containing at least 50 percent fat free meat."
The annual competition is open to the 3200-plus independent butchers in Australia and is considered the meat industry's premier competition program.
"This competition is about more than finding Australia's best sausages - though that's a pretty good cause in and of itself!" Patrick says. "It's also an opportunity to highlight the role of the independent butcher. Whether they're in a major metro shopping centre or in a tin shop in a rural town, butchers are highly skilled tradespeople. The butcher shop is not just a place to grab some meat for the freezer, it's where people go to try new and interesting products, to get ideas for meals and meal planning, and of course to support local business.
"We love our butchers, and we love our snags. In fact, Australians spend over $650 million a year buying nearly 100 million kilograms of sausages."
The 2020 Sausage King winners will be announced on Saturday February 8. There will also be awards for Best Butcher Burger and a range of smallgoods categories, plus Apprentice of the Year. Awards will be announced at a gala dinner following a two-day program of industry training and networking events as well as rigorous testing for the finalists including an exciting Mystery Box Challenge for the apprentices.
Following hot on the heels of the National Awards will be the first ever National Sausage Week - an entire week dedicated to the beauty of the banger, the savouring of the snag, the simplicity of the sausage.
From Sunday 9 February until Saturday 15 February, independent butchers will celebrate Sausage Week with in-store promotions, competitions and specials. Drop into your local store to see what they have planned.