Bringing home the bacon prize

October 31 2013

A BRISTOL butcher shop is celebrating today after its bacon was crowned the best in the west.

don hayes butchers

A BRISTOL butcher shop is celebrating today after its bacon was crowned the best in the west. 

Don Hayes Butchers, in Staple Hill, took the top prize at the annual BPEX Awards (British Pork Executive) for their mulled wine bacon, as well as striking gold for five other products too. 

Butcher Tom Mooney, who created the bacon, said: “It is really overwhelming, I knew we had a chance of winning a few gold awards but never dreamt we would take the overall regional prize as well.” 

The BPEX Awards, held annually in Exeter, are a major fixture in the calendar for all independent butchers and Mr Mooney’s creation fought off competition from 200 other entries to take the regional title. 

He said: “I am always trying to come up with new ideas. Not all of them are successful - I once tried a chocolate orange bacon that was truly awful.

“But I got the idea for the mulled wine bacon when I was making a spiced gammon for dinner at home one weekend. So I tried out a bacon cured with a mix of whole spices, some red wine, sugar and orange peel. I thought it may be a bit of a gimmick but when I tried it I knew I was on to something. 

“We gave some away to some of our best customers and the feedback was really good, so I thought I would enter it in the show.” 

Don Hayes Butchers is owned by Mr Mooney’s mother and father, Jackie and Eamonn, and this year celebrates its 50th anniversay. 

As well as triumphing for the mulled wine bacon, the butchers also won gold for three varieties of sausage -traditional pork, pork and spiced plum and ploughman’s. 

Mr Mooney, 27, has only been in the meat trade for one year, since leaving a career as a newspaper journalist to join the family business.  He added: “I might have only been in butchery for a year but much of that time has been dedicated to developing bacon. It has become a bit of an obsession - I think my work colleagues and my wife have got fed up with me making them try my weird and wacky combinations!”