WINNING a coveted state sausage king title offers hope for an Avoca butcher, less than two weeks after fire ravaged his shop.
Butcher James Collicoat and his wife Hayley have been left to work out of their second shop in Maryborough – which they opened in April – after the devastating blaze.
Ms Collicoat said the prestigious state awards were a great tribute to the community support they had received from across the region.
“It is very bittersweet, we just lost our business and livelihood in Avoca but these awards show what our product is and how hard we work,” Ms Collicoat said.
“James and I have been so overwhelmed with the love from everyone because without them, I don’t think our business would recover. Everyone’s in our corner.
“Hopefully this will help to turn us around and really show how good our product is.”
Pyrenees Premium Cuts placed in four of five categories in the Victorian Smallgoods Competition finals, capturing first place for their plain sausages and Strasbourgs.
The business also picked up a silver for their chilli-cheese kransky in the sausage king awards and a bronze for their plain burger at a gala Melbourne Exhibition Centre dinner.
This was the first time the business had picked up titles.
Their operations are restricted with the Collicoats’ main base being the Avoca shop they opened two years ago.
They still make their own product but have had to outsource the cooking for their Strasbourgs after the equipment needed was lost in the fire.
Pyrenees Premium Cuts is continuing to supply the Avoca IGA supermarket and Tasty Bird in Ararat.
Ms Collicoat said the fire had also not dissuaded them from looking how they can get their sausages and other products into Ballarat.
For now, the Collicoats are focusing on bringing their Avoca shop back to life.
Their mission when they moved to Avoca two years ago was to deliver the township a quality butcher because, for too long, the closest option for residents was to travel to Maryborough – and that was taking more business out of town.
From the outset, the butcher shop has been about becoming part of the town culture. Avoca residents were quick to rally and help the couple clear some council hurdles and have the butchery ready for business within six weeks.
The couple made a deliberate choice to source its cattle from a nearby farmer, its lambs from down the road, fresh produce from local growers and wine selections from neighbourhood vineyards.
Their intentions have been clear in trying to show off the region’s produce for tourists and residents. This has included working closely with nearby hotels, restaurants and the supermarket as a supplier.
Moving to Avoca was a decision they made after visiting the vacant butchery on a whim.
Mr Collicoat had been working long days for a Maryborough business and the couple saw Avoca as an opportunity for greater family time. They now have five young children who could pop in and visit their dad during the day and watch him work.
A key feature of the Avoca shop was the large open window for customers to watch Mr Collicoat break down his own meat and make any cut on request.
...Without them, I don’t think our business would recover. Everyone’s in our corner.Hayley Collicoat
Ms Collicoat had said customers from the region and visiting from further afield were increasingly interested in where they sourced their produce.
Their work captured attention fast across the state’s west.
Mr Collicoat’s skill was put on show earlier this year alongside River Cottage Australia’s Paul West in a meating masterclass. The pair headlined Grampians Grape Escape in Halls Gap, breaking down a whole pig to educate crowds on different meat cuts, pork versatility and nose-to-tail cooking.
The chance to team up with the sustainable celebrity and trained chef allowed Mr Collicoat a prime chance to both show what the region had to offer and, importantly, a near-lost art form.
Ms Collicoat said the aftermath of the fire was still tough but the community gave them hope and they wanted to do the community proud again.