IT WAS a proud moment for Gympie son and Noosa butcher Steve Young when he took out first place for the best ham in Queensland recently.
Steve, 41, has always been interested in butchery and had his first job as a cleaner in a butcher's at eight years old.
The former St Patrick's student grew up in Gympie after moving here when he was 13 and began his butcher apprenticeship at Stewart Terrace Butchery under the wing of Geoff Buckley.
Steve moved to Noosaville when he was 26 and from there has built his business, Noosa Meat Centre.
This is the third year Steve has entered the Australian PorkMark Ham Awards and out of 140 applicants he came first in Queensland and second in Australia.
"I need to stay on top of the game now and work towards getting first place in Australia," Steve said.
The award-winning ham underwent a complicated process to receive the right taste, colour, aroma and appearance.
Steve said he gathered ideas from his apprenticeship days with Mr Buckley. He then tested and changed the method to make it his own, which ended up being very successful.
The ham is sent to Sydney for judging and each ham is individually wood smoked with European beach wood.
When Steve received the call to say he had won, he could not have been happier.
"I am very proud of the business and workers.
"I am glad I bit the bullet and worked outside the box and it paid off," he said.
Steve worked with a food technician for six months to produce the perfect cured ham. He believed he had to work outside the square to stand out from the crowd.
With Christmas around the corner, the award came at a handy time for Steve's business.
"It was the perfect advertisement for Christmas time. Who wouldn't want to travel down the coast to buy the best ham in Queensland?"
Steve strives to promote the Australian meat industry by only supplying local meat. His business distributes one and a half tonnes of ham to IGA on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane.
"I am dedicated to producing Australian meat," he said.
"Look out for the Australian pork sticker on your meat products."