Illawarra butchers have won three state awards at the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) Sausage King and Smallgoods Competition.
Hastie's Toptaste Meats in Wollongong won gold with first place in the traditional Australian Beef Sausage category. Pure Bred Meats at Thirroul was the overall winner for Gourmet and Continental Sausages. And South Nowra Meats scored gold for its Gourmet Burger.
John Hastie said all three butchers now progress to the national titles in Katoomba in February.
"For this region to get three wins out of the 12 categories was pretty good," he said.
Illawarra butchers are no strangers to success in the major competition. Mr Hastie said at least a couple of butchers always did well at the state level and in 2018 two achieved the major prize in their category at the highest level.
"Kory at South Nowra Meats won an Australian title along with us last year. He won in the burger competition. It is significant because you have got to progress from regional to state and then the nationals. You have got to win to keep progressing".
Mr Hastie said the state win was a great result for Peter Deiure, of Pure Bred Meats. "He has been out of the industry for a few years but came back and is going great guns. Peter and I actually went to TAFE together more than 30 years ago".
Mr Hastie has made the national finals three times now and won it for the first time last February. "It is not just all about me. I have got a team behind me who are pretty reliable and consistent. It is as much their award as it is mine".
Mr Hastie said the sausages are judged raw and then cooked. Everything is taken into consideration from length to texture, taste and smell.
"I think Illawarra butchers do so well because they have so much passion and want to be so consistent," he said.
Hasties has been around for more than 40 years.
The business presently has one store and a wholesale factory.
Mr Hastie himself has been a butcher for 36 years.