Silver for ham a delicious surprise
Lindsay Alderson produces some of the best ham in New Zealand, but he is keeping how he does it to himself.
The Wakefield Butchery owner won a silver medal for his sugar-cured, beech-smoked sliced ham at the recent 100% New Zealand Ham of the Year Awards.
A butcher for 48 years, he entered the awards for the first time this year because he knew that he made a good product, but wanted to see how he compared with others.
He was hoping for a top-10 placing, but was surprised to come joint second out of 74 entries, finishing behind overall winner Nosh Food Market, of Auckland, which won with its manuka-smoked, honey-cured ham.
But try to get Mr Alderson to talk about his recipe and he goes quiet, other than to say he does things a little differently during the cooking and curing and that the ham he won with is the same he sells to his customers.
"Everyone has their own recipe. I changed the recipe when I came here and the hams took off."
Ham sales have trebled since he took over the struggling butchery almost two years ago.
Competing against bigger outlets and supermarkets remains tough going, but Mr Alderson says business has picked up since he has "put in the hard yards".
Much of that is a result of his expanding home-kill operation, whereby increasing numbers of hunters have brought in their prey for processing.
"We are getting more customers through word of mouth."
He has doubled his staff to four to cope.
Mr Alderson did his apprenticeship in the central Otago town of Ranfurly, before working for many years in Dunedin.
In need of a change, he went fishing on commercial longline trawlers for a while, which drew him to Nelson, where he eventually grabbed the opportunity to get back into his old trade when the Wakefield shop came on the market.
"I never lost touch with butchering. It's a bit like riding a bike."
Owen Symmans, chief executive of New Zealand Pork, which runs the competition, said it was part of the industry's strategy to promote fresh, New Zealand-grown pork.
About 55 per cent of pork products sold on the domestic market were home grown and it was keen to raise awareness of the 100% New Zealand label.