New Zealand's top bacon and ham announced

A Hawke’s Bay butchery has been announced as the Supreme Winner in both bacon and ham categories of the 100% New Zealand Bacon & Ham Awards. Wild Game in Hastings has taken out New Zealand’s top bacon award with their middle eye/loin entry and New Zealand’s best ham award for their boneless ham.

Wild Game owners Jordan and Varnnah Hamilton-Bicknell run a boutique butchery in Camberley, Hastings where they create quality products which are sold both in-store and online.

Jordan, who has a passion for hunting and the outdoors, started his butchery trade at the age of 15 in a butcher shop in Woodville. After working six years for the previous owner of Wild Game, Jordan took over the business and takes great pride in crafting his award-winning products.

Jordan says “it blows me away to be the supreme winner of both the bacon and ham awards. It’s the first time I have entered and I never thought I would win both.”

“My secret is really just keeping it real, creating old school bacon and ham, using good quality New Zealand pork - keeping it simple and doing it well.”

It’s a local success story with the pork being supplied by Dean Nikora of Crackling Good Farm also in the Hawkes Bay.

Dean, who was in attendance at the event was delighted to have played a part in Jordan’s success, saying “supplying someone like Wild Game is critical to us because it helps us to grow, in terms of offering a specialised product, caring for the animal really well and being able to present it to Jordan in the way that he needs it. This allows him to create a superior product.”

Judging took place over three days, with a team of butchers and culinary experts inspecting and sampling our country’s finest bacon and ham products, all produced from 100% New Zealand born and raised New Zealand pork. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded in each of the seven bacon categories and the two ham categories. From there, all gold medal winners were re-judged against each other to then find New Zealand’s supreme bacon and ham.

Judge and food writer, Ginny Grant said it was wonderful to see such a high standard of entries this year.

“The judging panel were looking for great flavour, good salt levels, subtle smokiness and a nice even distribution of fat. It’s important to get those attributes right to allow the flavour of the pork to shine through.” Says Ginny.

“The Supreme Bacon winner was a great piece of bacon with a lovely balance of flavour. Smoke didn’t dominate and most importantly it tasted of pork.”

A less traditional ham took out the supreme award and judges said it was quite unique but refreshing to see a pressed shoulder ham win a national award.

Ginny said: “The winning ham was a beautiful piece of meat – it looked and tasted amazing with a lovely texture.” Aside from the traditional ways of cooking, Ginny’s top tip is to use bacon and ham as flavouring ingredients in the base of soups or pasta sauces to add depth and richness to various dishes.

“I like to use bacon or ham at the beginning of a dish to get all the flavour of the fat out into the final dish – as we know fat is flavour,” says Ginny.

Whichever way you choose to serve your bacon and ham, you can check out where all the medal winners are located here.

Wild Game