ROSSCARBERY Black Pudding was the only Irish producer to win a gold award at Europe’s biggest black pudding competition.
In addition to the gold they won, the company – which is owned and run by free-range pig farmers Willie and Avril Allshire – was also presented with a silver award by Le Confrerie des Chevaliers du Goute-Boudin for their gluten-free black pudding.
The couple have, in fact, won more than 40 awards since they began entering competitions in 2004.
It is not their first time taking gold in this competition. They won it in 2017 and were also presented with a Gran Prix d’Excellence for their gluten-free white puddings, and a silver for the Biltong they produce.
Over the years, the company has won a plethora of awards, including 10 from the French Black Pudding Fraternity
But it is not just the French that fancy Rosscarbery black and white pudding, the company has been presented with awards by Blas na hÉireann and the Great Taste Awards, as well as having been named Irish Champion and Irish Artisan Producer of the Year.
Rosscarbery Recipes first won at Blas na hÉireann in 2012 and the family business – which includes their sons William and Maurice – has achieved a place on the winners list every year since then.
Speaking to The Southern Star about their latest win, Avril Allshire said: ‘People ask why we enter competitions and the answer, simply, is that it is an excellent way to ensure that we are maintaining our quality standard. But to win it outright is simply amazing.’
The couple rear their Saddleback-cross pigs for the Caherbeg brand naturally, without antibiotics and growth promoters.
It is just one of the reasons that their brand Caherbeg Free Range Pork Products is developing a global following.
Avril explained how the business began: she said Willie’s background is business and specifically, printing and stationery, but he always had a grá for the land.
Together, in 1994, they bought a 20-acre holding that came with a small house, which they planned to use for holidays, weekends and their retirement.
What actually happened, according to Avril is: ‘We stayed in Caherbeg for our honeymoon and essentially we never lived in Cork city again.’
Most of the land was leased to a neighbour for the first couple of years, but as the land was, according to Avril, ‘more trouble than it was worth,’ the farmer didn’t renew the lease in 1997.
Avril suggested that they’d get one or two pigs to keep the weeds down.
Within three months they had reared 20 free-range outdoor pigs from weaner to maturity.
It was in June 2000 that Willie informed Avril that they would be going into the production of free-range sausages and also of dry cure rashers.
Avril thought he was joking but by November 2000 Caherbeg Free Range Pork Ltd was registered and the couple were literally ‘in business’.