Initial judging to find the Chester Food and Drink Festival Sausage Champions for 2018 were held at The University of Chester’s NoWFOOD Centre last week with three finalists in both the best plain sausage and best flavoured sausage decided.
In a twist to this year’s event, festival organiser Briony Wilson also entered in the plain sausage category a mass produced sausage to be blind tasted by the panel of experts to see how it rated against the best sausage makers in Cheshire and North Wales and she was stunned with the results.
She said: “I had seen an advertisement on television where a sausage maker was claiming they were the nations favourite sausage and given that we had eight judges with over 50 years tasting experience on a panel I thought I would see just how the so-called nations favourite rated against our brilliant sausage makers.
“The result was that the nation’s favourite was the least favourite by a very long way and the comments from the judges included ‘tasted like paste’, ‘just awful’ and ‘totally wrong.’
“It was a glowing endorsement for the quality of sausage making by our local butchers and it proved categorically that the humble sausage really is a thing of great enjoyment when done well.
“The judges commented that this year was a triumph in terms of quality and taste and that their task was harder than ever.
“The finalists truly are very good at what they do.”
A panel of eight judges led by chairman and four-time winner Steve Vaughan of Vaughan’s Butchers inclued Izzy Grey of We Love Cheshire, sausage expert Michael Muter, NoWFOOD Centre’s Jeff George, Professor Evans and Dee 106.3 presenter Gavin Matthews.
They deliberated in a blind tasting over sausages from right across Cheshire and North Wales.
There were two categories with judges looking to decide from over 30 sausages who would be the finalists in both the best plain sausage and best flavoured sausage to be judged on Sunday, April 1 at the festival.
Best plain pork sausage finalists were: H Clewlow of Nantwich and Hoole, Cheebrooks Farm Shop in Nantwich and Ernest W Edge & Son in Handbridge, Chester
Flavoured sausage finalists were: Duttons Butchers of Kelsall with their Cheshire Farmhouse, Cheerbrooks with a pork, spring onion and ginger sausage and Muffs of Bromborough with a coriander, carlic and ginger entry.
These six sausages will now compete for the title of Sausage of the Festival with the first 40 people who attend the Food and Drink Festival on Sunday, April 1 at 11am in the main demo kitchen having the chance to taste and vote for their favourite in each category.
Once the two division winners have been chosen Steve Vaughan, of Vaughan’s Butchers in Penyffordd, will then choose the Sausage of the Festival and this butcher will go on to represent Cheshire in the National Champion of Champions contest in October.
Festival organiser Stephen Wundke thanked the NoWFOOD Centre for providing such outstanding facilities to allow all the sausages to be cooked in the optimum conditions.
He said: “We have gone to a lot of effort to ensure maximum transparency in this competition with blind voting and a large number of judges to cover all pallets.
“The NoWFOOD Centre have the best kitchens anywhere in the North-West that allowed us to use ovens that provide a ‘fry pan’ cook evenly to all sausages ensuring the ultimate flavour was sealed in each sausage.
“It was something very special to see and taste.
“Now the public can help us find our overall winner at this year’s festival and who knows, maybe we will end up with a national champion again just like Steve Vaughan.”
The Chester Food Drink and Lifestyle Festival takes place from March 31 – April 2 over Easter.
For more information or to find out how to buy tickets, which are £6 online with children under 12 free, please go to www.chesterfoodanddrink.co.uk .