Upper crust producers win awards in national competition

Amanda and Mark Handson EMN-160328-113945001
Amanda and Mark Handson EMN-160328-113945001
  • Butchers show the great British pie is alive and well in Woodhall Spa and Mareham le Fen

Two village butchers have shown they are members of the upper crust of producers after winning awards in a national competition.

Handsons Butchers of Mareham le Fen and RJ Hirst in Woodhall Spa both displayed they have the recipe for success by coming away from the British Pie Awards 2016 with multiple awards.

Russ and Sadie Hirst EMN-160328-113933001

Russ and Sadie Hirst EMN-160328-113933001

The annual event is held at the home of the great British pie – Melton Mowbray.

“We entered four items and came away with awards for two of them, which was really good,” said Amanda Handson, who runs the Mareham le Fen business with husband Mark.

This is the second time they have entered the awards and scooped a silver for their Steak and Cote Hill pie, while their gluten-free pork received a bronze accolade.

“We are really pleased with the award for our gluten-free pork pie,” said Amanda.

“It took a while to get it right, but it clearly is now.

“It is just one of the products we have in our gluten-free range, which we are adding to all the time.

“We are a traditional business and all our pies are hand made, which makes it very difficult when you are up against big names and big companies at the awards.

“We are always putting together new things, though.

“At the moment we are trying little sausage pies with different flavours, and these are going down really well.”

But it isn’t just everyday food that Handsons are good at.

“Perhaps the most unusual thing was a wedding cake made out of pies,” added Amanda.

Over at Woodhall Spa, Sadie and Russ Hirst are also celebrating this year’s success.

They have shown the consistency of their top notch products by receiving bronze awards for their steak and gravy pies, and pasties, both of which have received prizes at the event in previous years.

“We are absolutely thrilled that we have won two awards this year, the first time we have been awarded two.

“This is an enormous coup as we are up against huge companies and pie producers, so for us, a small team of just four people, to be placed for the third year running is just brilliant.

“This is the only national competition we enter. There are more than 800 entries, so so we are really delighted to be recognised in this way.”

The pies are handmade by butcher Russ and baker Sadie.

Like Handsons, Sadie says the key to success is constantly developing new products, while also maintaining a range of tried and tested quality pies and pasties.

“We both have a passion for historic recipes,” added Sadie.

“We are always researching and developing new products, and our latest addition is a sausage pie.”

R J Hirst is no stranger to creating award-winning products and being recognised as a first-class business.

The past year has seen them win the Select Lincolnshire Business of the Year Award, as well as being a finalist in the Select Lincolnshire Best Retailer Award for the second year running, and reaching the finals of the Best Producer Award for the third year running.

Their products have also received multiple awards at the County Food Awards and, since 2014, at the British Pie Awards.

Next up for R J Hirst is the biennial Lincolnshire Poacher Competition, organised by Lincolnshire County Foods, at the Lincolnshire Showground in the autumn.

Both R J Hirst and Handsons have also said they are already looking at what to enter in next year’s British Pie awards.