Martin Player, the butcher from Whitchurch in Cardiff who counts Gareth Bale’s parents among his regular customers, rose to the top of the table in the prestigious Q Guild of Butchers Smithfield awards, helped by a special Welsh Beef burger he developed to celebrate the Wales football team’s success at Euro 2016.
Among well over 500 entries submitted by top artisan meat producers from across the UK, the judges found Martin Player’s Euro 2016 burger with chilli and garlic to be a cut above in the PGI Welsh Beef category.
But it turned into a double celebration for the Cardiff butcher, as he also scooped the award for the best PGI Welsh Lamb product for a kitchen-ready Greek-style lamb roast. Martin also claimed nine of the Q Guild’s ‘gold awards’ for products as wide-ranging as Dry Cured Back Bacon and Meatballs in a Brazilian Pepper Sauce.
“The Euro Burger scored on all fronts and was particularly popular for the 2016 summer BBQ season,” said Martin Player. “In fact, it went down so well that’s it’s now permanently on sale in the shop.”
Winners were announced at a ceremony in Ironmongers Hall, London, when the awards were presented by the acclaimed writer and food criticTom Parker Bowles. Both the Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef prizes were sponsored by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), which supports independent butchers through its 240-strong Welsh Butchers’ Club.
Another HCC Butchers’ Club member, Moody Sow Farm Shop, based at Cefn Mably Farm Park in Old St Mellons, Cardiff, was also a double gold award winner with their Beef Olive and Pork Pinwheel products. The meat for the Pork Pinwheel comes from Saddleback pigs reared on Moody Sow’s own farm.
According to HCC Head of Communications Owen Roberts, the awards were a testament to the quality of Welsh red meat and the innovation of independent butchers in Wales.
“Over recent months, members of the HCC Welsh Butchers’ Club have excelled in a range of industry events, culminating in the deserved success of Moody Sow Farm Shop and Martin Player at the prestigious Q Guild Smithfield awards,” said Owen. “There’s a huge amount of product innovation going on among our high-street butchers and artisan producers, bringing kitchen-ready meal solutions and exciting flavours to their customers.”