Scotland’s young butcher of the year has helped the shop he works at pick up a plethora of plaudits in the latest round of national industry awards.
Ryan Briggs, 19, is one of a team of six at Jedburgh butcher AJ Learmonth celebrating winning five golds and one silver at this year’s Scottish Craft Butchers Savoury Pastry Products Awards.
The High Street butcher’s hand-held steak pies; bridies; steak, bacon and haggis pies; chicken and haggis in peppercorn sauce pies, and quiche lorraines all struck gold.
Its Scotch pies added a silver to that prize haul.
Ryan, set to represent Britain at the World Butchers Challenge in Northern Ireland in March, said: “The awards were the first showing for our steak, bacon and haggis pies, so it’s great for them to do so well.
“I’m working to traditional recipes handed on from my boss, Allan Learmonth.”
Allan added: “The team of six we’ve got here is a good team, and everyone does their bit.”
AJ Learmonth was one of dozens of butchers from all over Scotland to submit between them almost 300 different hand-crafted pies, sausage rolls and bridies for judging in six categories.
Hawick butcher Robert Pringle was also among the winners at the awards.
Its sausage rolls, Scotch pies, hand-held steak pies and chicken with pork, sage and onion pies all won silver prizes.
James Pringle now runs the High Street shop opened by his great-grandfather Robert in 1902, and he says some of the credit for its success in winning more than 40 accolades in the last seven years is due to his ancestor.
“I’ve recently succeeded in recreating my great-grandfather’s recipe for seasoning from scratch, and we try to be as true to the traditional products as possible,” said James.
Coldstream butcher GJ Sanderson collected a further hat-trick of silver awards for its haggis and tattie pies, Scotch pies and haggis and black pudding pies.
“The haggis recipe dates back to the 1900s,” explained owner Graham Sanderson.
“It has always proved very popular so we thought why not use it in a pie?
“Being recognised and rewarded by the industry for what we do is really appreciated.
“There’s no secret to an award-winning recipe really – just good-quality ingredients and a little bit of love.”
Douglas Scott, chief executive of Scottish Craft Butchers, said this year’s savoury pastry evaluation, carried out in Perth, had attracted a record number of entrants, but it is all about quality rather than quantity.
“The evaluation drives up standards year after year, all to the benefit of the customer,” he said.
“Identifying the very best is of immense importance since these are the products that pastry enthusiasts will travel big distances to source.
“Awards are not given out lightly. Every one of the butchers recognised can be rightly proud of their products and their customers can purchase with high expectations of great taste.”
“These awards show customers just what a high standard their local butcher sets.”