Tulare Meat Locker earns top prize at national competition

Calley Cederlof,

Aug. 1, 2018

For the second year in a row, Danny Mendes, owner of Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., took home several wins at the American Association of Meat Processors’ American Cured Meat Championships, held in Kansas City.

Except this go around, he came home with even more “hardware” to showcase at his Tulare shop.

Mendes won awards for five different meat products, one of which earned grand champion: his hot link sausage.

The sausage, which he recently dubbed the “Kansas City Red Hot” is the shop’s newest item on the menu. The sausage beat out 15 other competitors for the top spot, including a Kansas City local.

He is the first to win in the category, which was introduced this year, he said.

“I’m pretty proud of that,” Mendes said of the win. “Here I come from California and come out with grand champion.”

Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months.
Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months. (Photo: Eric Woomer/ Visalia Times-Delta,)

The hot-link is a regional item known mostly in Oklahoma and Texas, said Jon Frohling, past American Association of Meat Processors president.

“For a California boy to go down there and win that — it’s a big deal,” Frohling said. “Especially when you’re not eating it every day.”

Other awards earned by Mendes include reserve grand champions for his bone in ham and braunschweiger — a German liver sausage. His boneless ham won champion and his country dry cured bacon was crowned reserve champion.

Mendes said he is excited about the wins.

“It’s been great, especially in with the bone-in ham (category),” Mendes said. “That’s one that I’ve really been wanting to master.”

In total, Mendes brought 22 products to the event, which flew with him on the plane packed in ice.

This is only his second year at the competition. Last year, he earned grand champion for his smoked bratwurst sausage and reserve grand champion for his andouille sausage.

At the competition, products are judged on a 1,000-point scoring system. Judges score based on several factors including internal and external appearance, color, aroma and flavor — the most important of all, Frohling said.

“If you win at that show, you’ve got a great product,” he added.

Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage is one of only two shops in California to take home awards at this year’s event and is the smallest shop competing.

When he arrived home on Sunday, he was celebrated with family, friends and customers. It was also extra special, it was his birthday.

Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months.
Danny Mendes, Tulare Meat Locker owner, took home top honors in several categories during the American Cured Meat Championships in Kansas City. His crew has been working on the selections for months. (Photo: Eric Woomer/ Visalia Times-Delta,)

“My kids had signs that said, ‘welcome home Daddy,’ and we met up with family the next day,” Mendes said. “I got a lot of calls and texts. It was a warm welcoming for sure.”

Mendes also posted the news on Facebook, where customers and friends flooded him with congratulations messages.

“Not surprised because your meats are amazing and deserving of every one of these awards,” wrote Steven Jorgens.

Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co. offers custom butchering of livestock and fresh meat that isn’t sliced until ordered. Sausages, snack sticks, hams, tri-tip and linguica are also available.

In February, Mendes also took home 11 awards at the California Association of Meat Processors convention.

He’s already planning ahead to next summer when the national compeition will be held in Alabama.

For more information, call 688-2047 or visit the shop at 1531 E. Bardsley Ave. in Tulare.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2018/08/01/tulare-meat-locker-takes-home-top-prize-national-competition/872651002/

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