Innovation with tradition strikes Golds for Moira Butcher

Posted: 27/10/2010

Sampling innovative and traditional dishes from a group of Northern Ireland's Elite Butchers was quite an experience for TV personality, Jenny Bristow. A combination of innovative products and dedication to the taste and wholesomeness of traditional fare earned three gold awards and high praise from TV personality Jenny Bristow for McCartneys of Moira.

The occasion was a product evaluation evening organised by the Elite Butchers Association of Northern Ireland at The Bank Restaurant in Newry. The Elite Butchers Association is a self help group whose members share their expertise in order to enable them to offer traditional meats, exotic dishes and economy dishes, which originate from quality assured farms and which are fully traceable. All of the products are produced in state of the art premises under the strictest hygiene conditions.

Chairman Kieran Meehan said "We have workshops in each member's shop and exchange ideas and products. We organise trips to butchers in the South of Ireland and GB and invite groups from these areas to our shops. We have also arranged education and information trips to Holland, Chicago and Switzerland. At our monthly meetings we have speakers who assist us in many aspects of our business such as shop decor, stress management, customer care, staff training and innovative ideas".

On the evening each competitor brought along a sample of their sausages and two other dishes. The products were presented in both the raw and cooked state and were judged by Jenny Bristow and David Smith, a product development consultant from GB. The sausages were judged by Davids wife, Lindsay, who is a butchers daughter.

Speaking at the event Jenny Bristow said "This is a wonderful way to encourage everyone to raise their standards as the products were judged on customer appeal, originality, taste and colour. When judging we saw both innovation and a new twist on traditional products. These butchers are offering the consumer both an eating experience and meal solutions. Congratulations to all those who achieved silver and gold awards".

After judging the event, Jenny said "The mango and pineapple chicken breast from McCartney's is a really innovative product while their chicken and ham pie had the true flavour of one of the traditional dishes that have been the backbone of home cooking over the years".

Jenny went on to say that McCartney's sausages did well as expected since they are renowned for this product, but she was most impressed that this shop could preserve the outstanding attributes of a traditional product and yet be so innovative with another.

George McCartney, who runs the business with his brother Gordon and daughters, Judith and Sarah said "We simply selected three of our best selling lines and brought them to the competition. Our pies sell no matter what the season, with the chicken and ham one being the most popular, They are baked fresh every day on the premises".

Describing their innovative mango and pineapple chicken product, Judith said "This is a stuffed chicken breast with the skin and bone left on to maintain flavour. It is one of our more recent products and is selling really well".

McCartney's pride themselves on keeping up this reputation for a combination of quality meat, traditional wholesome dishes and innovative products, so that they can cater for all of their customers. These range from those who haven't time to cook to those for whom cooking is a passion. And of course their range of sausages is always a draw, with over 40 varieties available and over 30 on the counter at any one time.

So what is in the pipeline in the near future to tempt our taste buds? Apparently there is a curried lamb sausage under development and they have recently introduced rose veal and venison to their range of meats, and for a Halloween treat there will be toffee apple pork sausages.

This gourmet range is a far cry from the early days of the McCartney business when the cattle were killed out the back of the shop and customers came with a tin can to purchase the meat since there was no wrapping facility. The business has always been in the McCartney family and they are currently in the process of tracing its origins and can go back at least 140 years and possibly more.

George went on to say that the business is a continuous challenge and you must never sit back on your laurels. He has benefited greatly from his membership of the Elite Butchers Association and through his travels with them has gained many new ideas and has built up a network of butcher friends all over the world who exchange ideas on all aspects of their business.

So what is the secret for years and years of success? George explained "Quality meat and ingredients are the starting point. We know the source of our meat and the names of the farmers who supply each week are displayed in the shop. To maintain that quality the meat must be handled properly and we deal with the smaller niche specialists rather than volume traders. After that you must consider hygiene and health matters and finally you tailor your products to suit your customer base. In this business the customer is king".


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