If there’s a map of meats, this butcher put Tulare on it
A Tulare butcher is making a splash in the world of smoked and cured meats — again.
This time, it’s a bigger splash.
Danny Mendes, owner of Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., recently took home several awards at the annual California Association of Meat Processors’ Cured Meat Competition held at California State University, Chico.
This is the fourth year Mendes has entered his prized meats in the competition and the second time the business has taken home the best in show award.
Mendes has made a name for himself and is quickly gaining state and national recognition.
“They didn’t know what Tulare was,” he said. “They know now.”
At the state competition, Mendes entered 28 products in 18 different categories. He took home 10 grand champion wins. In total, he took home 18 awards.
“Getting best in show two out of the four years is pretty awesome,” he said. “It was impressive — a feel-good moment.”
Mendes received grand champion awards for his bone-in ham, Italian bacon, jalapeno cheese stick, stadium franks black label, old fashion hot dogs, fresh Italian sausage, smoked bratwurst, cheddar bratwurst, jalapeno cheddar sausage, braunschweiger, garlic summer sausage, duck bacon and Linguica-style cottage bacon.
He also received a merit award for his sugar cured bone-in ham and turkey bacon.
But the big takeaway was the coveted Joe Cutler Memorial Best of Show for his Italian bacon. His sausage was judged against the grand champions of each meat category — many his own creations.
Mendes first started to work for Tulare Meat Locker, which originally opened in 1976, when he was only 13. After a call from the former owner in 2003, Mendes decided he wanted to take over the business.
Over the last 15 years, Mendes has worked on his technique and offers custom butchery to Tulare County residents and beyond.
His sandwiches are top hits at the annual Ag Expo and Tulare County Fair.
“That’s what makes this place unique, it’s all done in house,” he said.
The shop 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. He hopes to one day expand his storefront and offer all in-house made sandwiches.
The annual contest is open to all California Association of Meat Processor members and is judged by a panel of meat specialists.
Mendes is expected to compete at the national level this summer in Alabama.
Last year, he took home several wins at the American Association of Meat Processors’ American Cured Meat Championships, held in Kansas City.
Mendes won awards for five different meat products, one of which earned grand champion: his hot link sausage.
Tulare Meat Locker is located at 1531 E. Bardsley Ave.