We’re proud to introduce the finalists in the Cuisine Artisan Awards category at the New Zealand Food Awards. And the winner is… Beard Brothers Pork & Cress Sausages. Here Rob Beard of Beard Brothers tells us how their prize-winning Pork & Cress Sausages came into being.

Lead judge Fiona Smith was particularly impressed by the flavour profile of our winning entry. “What a crowd pleaser – the humble sausage is elevated with the clever addition of watercress to Beard Brothers free-range pork sausage, making it an instant Kiwi classic. It’s a simple but perfect combination of rich, succulent pork cut through with the pepperiness of the watercress. All the judges agreed it was a winning combination.”

So how did this tempting flavour combination come into being? Rob Beard tells us the whole story. “The idea for our pork and cress sausage came from one of our young sons. I often take all three boys hunting on the weekends. We shot a deer and my middle son, Ned, spotted some watercress in a creek on our way back to the hut. So we get back to the hut and I bang a leg of venison in the camp oven while Ned sorts the cress. A few hours later we are scoffing our faces with the most tender venison ever and this incredible flavoursome watercress. Between mouthfuls of goodness Ned pipes up, ‘Dad, you should put this in a sausage.’ Boom… lightbulb moment, right there. I lay in my bunk that night fizzing with excitement. I knew this would be epic if we could bring it to the market but use free-range pork instead of venison, and from there the pork and cress sausage was born.

“To make this sausage we needed a good commercial supply of clean, trusted watercress. I spent hours on Google and ringing around all parts of New Zealand trying to find a good reputable supplier of watercress but just couldn’t crack it. I was telling our onion supplier about our dilemma and out of the blue he tells me about a young guy and his wife who have set up a small hydroponic business supplying microgreens to restaurants and a couple of supermarkets, and they were trialling hydroponic watercress. It just so happens they are two minutes from our plant. I was there like a rocket and we now have a steady supply of the most incredible watercress ever. This was paramount to the whole idea and I blimmin near cried when I knew this was going to work… when you obsess over something and can’t see a way forward but keep on driving hard for the result it just feels so incredible to achieve it once you get there!” beardbrothers.co.nz