Fill up your gas bottle and strap on an apron, barbecue season is almost upon us.
And what better way to kick things off than with one of the best sausages in New Zealand?
For the second year running, one of Cherrywood Butcher's uniquely flavoured bangers has won national acclaim, with its Chinese san choy bow sausage winning gold at the Great New Zealand Sausage Competition.
The butchery, owned by Kurt and Alanna Thomson, also won gold in the mince category, which was added this year, for its gourmet chicken burger patties.
Last year, the pair won a gold medal for their BBQ Asian pork belly and cashew sausage and a silver medal for their chicken margarita sausage.
Kurt said he was over the moon with the result and the winning recipe was something he and his family came up with together during lockdown.
"I do a lot of research online for different ideas and during lockdown we were making different meals with the kids. We had Chinese san choy bow and my daughter said we should make it into a sausage.
"We basically started playing around with different flavours from there. Last year's one was just from a meal we had at a restaurant. The sky is the limit with sausages, people are getting so creative now."
He said a lot of trial and error iwas nvolved in getting the flavour combinations and texture just right, so it was nice for the efforts to be picked out by the judges, particularly in a year that has been tough on small businesses.
"The reaction last year was wicked, there was an awesome response. People from all over Tauranga, Waihi, Tokoroa, Hamilton - everyone came in to give it a try. It's nice after a not so good start to the year.
"We've definitely started thinking about what to enter for next year, there's a few ideas there for sure, we'd like to go for the trifecta and get another gold."
Meanwhile, if the classic flavours are more your style, Col's Butchery in Mount Maunganui won a silver medal for its beef and onion sausage.
The medal winning sausages were announced last night at a virtual awards ceremony.
Despite the disruption of two lockdowns this year, Kiwi butchers have remained resilient and put their best snarlers forward culminating in a record-breaking 605 entries from 99 sausage producers across 17 categories.
Auckland-based Grey Lynn Butchers took out the 2020 Supreme Award.
Competition judge Kathy Paterson said the winning sausage, an Isterband - a traditional Swedish sausage - was a unique, original entry that was technically very well made, making it stand out from the rest.
"The standard this year was very high and when you get a beautifully made sausage, with a lovely texture and the flavour of the meat coming through, you know you have a winner."
This year, competition organisers Retail Meat New Zealand also wanted to acknowledge all the sausage producers who have supported the competition over the past 10 years and announced Peter Timbs Meats in Christchurch as Producer of the Decade.
Bay of Plenty medal winners
Cherrywood Butcher Tauranga – Chinese san choy bow – gold medal
Cherrywood Butcher Tauranga – Gourmet chicken burger pattie – gold medal
Col's Butchery in Mount Maunganui – Beef and onion sausage – silver medal