Stemmler’s Brings Home The Winning Bacon
By Brent Davis
Grand River Life Staff
Who in their right mind would pay $800 for a few pounds of bacon? Probably the same sort of person who would fork out $3000 for three pounds of Kielbossa.
Make no mistake about it; these aren’t your run-of-the-mill, cured meats. These are the best of the best, and a local family business can lay claim to a few of them.
Heidelberg’s Stemmler Meats & Cheese took home Grand Champion honors in three categories recently in competition at the annual Ontario Independent Meat Processors Association conference.
The Stemmler brothers won with their country-style bacon, beef jerky and a deli-style entry called Roast Chicken Burrito, which hit the spot in the Innovative Ready-To-Eat category.
“This one was very unique,” said a proud Kevin Stemmler, who runs the 15-year-old business with brothers Shawn and Terry. Parents (and owners) Jerry and Maryann Stemmler are retiring this year.
The chicken creation, spiced up with black beans and salsa, can be sliced thin for sandwiches and is free of nitrates, gluten and M.S.G.
Along with a retail operation in Heidelberg, The Stemmlers have a booth at the Waterloo Farmers’ Market and supply a number of area restaurants and wholesale distributors.
About 55 entries vied for plaques and bragging rights at the conference, held earlier this month in Hamilton. And these judges don’t miss a thing.
Taste and smell play a big role, of course.
But they’re also looking at colour, exterior appearance, shape, and moisture content.
The bacon, Stemmler said “was a bit of a crap shoot.” It can’t be cut until it’s ready to be judged, so you never know what you’re going to get (although years of experience give Stemmler a pretty good idea).
The winning meats and the runners-up in each category were then auctioned off. Someone brought home Stemmler’s bacon for $800. Another person paid $3000 for the champion kielbossa.
What do you do with a $3000 sausage? “I’m sure they ate it.” laughed association spokeswoman Janet Wellwood.
The non-profit group, made up of 200 small or medium-sized meat packers, producers and suppliers, promotes safe and wholesome industry standards.
Over the years, Stemmler Meats has always done well at the competition, but never like this.
“This was our best showing ever,” Stemmler said. “It blew me away!