Student Emily helps butcher’s strike five golds

Mark Turnbull, right, at the 2017 Q Guild Smithfield Awards, with food critic Tom Parker Bowles, Emily Dodds, left, and retail supervisor Emma Havelin.
Mark Turnbull, right, at the 2017 Q Guild Smithfield Awards, with food critic Tom Parker Bowles, Emily Dodds, left, and retail supervisor Emma Havelin.

A university student on work placement at an Alnwick butcher has played a major role in helping the shop pick up five national gold awards.

Emily Dodds, 20, who is studying for a food and nutrition degree at Sheffield Hallam University, is undertaking a 12-month stint at Turnbull’s, where she is acting as new product development assistant.

Her ideas and input were directly responsible for three of the gold-award successes achieved by Turnbull’s – a pork and mango sausage, gluten-free spicy beef meatballs filled with mozzarella, and cider-baked ham with a honey mustard glaze.

The other two golds went to the shop’s red onion and sage sausage roll, and Naked Kiev, a kitchen-ready product, as Turnbull’s flew the flag for Northumberland in the 2017 Butchers Q Guild Smithfield Awards.

Emily said: “My work placement role involves analysing current food trends in the market, as well as popular products among our own customers and using this information when developing new products. I have developed a few of my own ideas with the team at Turnbull’s, including three of the gold award winners, an achievement of which I am very proud.”

The Smithfield Awards are regarded as one of the toughest product evaluation tests in the land, held aloft as the Guild’s annual Oscars. Winners were announced at a ceremony in Ironmongers Hall, London, presented by the acclaimed British food writer and critic Tom Parker Bowles.

Mark Turnbull, who is also the Q Guild’s national chairman, was accompanied to the awards by both Emily and the shop’s retail supervisor, Emma Havelin, 34, who has worked her way up through the business since joining as a Saturday girl in 1998.

Open to the Q Guild’s 123 members nationwide, the 2017 Smithfield Awards attracted a record entry of almost 600 individual products, a major increase on the previous year, from 61 butcher businesses from the Scottish Highlands down to the south coast.

A total of 267 gold awards winners emerged this year across the Q Guild’s eight regions – this, too, was a new record high. Judged blind by independent panels of international food and meat industry experts, products were then shortlisted for the national final in each of the ten product categories.

Mark said: “The record response this year was absolutely amazing and reinforced the Guild’s decision to change the awards format.”

He added: “This year’s presentation event also attracted a record attendance. The new format allows all winners to promote their products and their businesses for a full 11 months within the current year of the awards, which - supported by special promotional packs presented to all gold award winners - will, we feel, prove an extremely potent and effective marketing tool.

“In addition, many entrants also tell us that the judges’ feedback proves invaluable in helping them not only to enhance their own Smithfield Award products, but also develop and launch even more successful ones after networking and sharing ideas with other members, which remains key to the Q Guild’s ethos.”

This year’s overall Smithfield Awards supreme champion was HG Walters Butchers, based at Barons Court in the London Borough of Hammersmith, with its bourbon glazed dexter beef short ribs, a kitchen-ready product.

Smithfield Awards sponsors were the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – both its Beef & Lamb and Pork divisions - Lucas Ingredients, Dalziel, The Scobie & Junor Group, Comark, The Dalesman Group, TruNet Packaging Services, Innovative Food Ingredients, MRC, Scotch Beef & Lamb, and Hybu Cig Cymru Meat Promotion Wales.