At AAMP 2017, editor-in-chief of Independent Processor Sam Gazdziak spoke with Mark Reynolds, owner of Country Meat Shop, who won the Clarence Knebel Best of Show Award for his Round Bacon. Reynolds also discussed what gives him an edge when creating his products for competition.

Sam Gazdziak: Mark won the Clarence Knebel Best of Show Award at the American Cured Meat Championship for his round bacon, so Mark, can you talk a little bit about that product?

Mark Reynolds: The round bacon is a product that I make that is just my normal bacon that I do a process on it. I usually use the front third of the belly or actually the front two-thirds of the belly and stuff it in a net or a sock casing and smoke it along with my other bacon. It does a real nice job as far as… we usually taper the edges a little bit, so it has a nice transition.

Gazdziak: Now, you had a lot of success at not only this year’s America Cured Meat Championship but you also cleaned up at the Missouri Cured Meat Championship as well. When it comes to submitting product for these competitions, what do you do that helps give you that edge?

Reynolds: We make our normal product, and then we just take a little extra time when we do the show product. It usually gets a little harder trim, because a lot of the guys do trim harder than they would for a normal production. Other than that, it’s just standard product. We don’t really pull off the shelf, because if you pull off the shelf, you’re probably not going to win, because most of the people aren’t pulling off the shelf that bring a product to the show. They take extra care, and they don’t smash their product all together, flatten it out, and vacuum package to get it here. We make sure we take extra care about how we prepare the product for the show.

Gazdziak: So if someone finds themselves in Moberly, MO and has a chance to go to Country Meat Shop, what are the one or two things you recommend that they really have to try?

Reynolds: They have to try, of course, the bacon and then our hot dogs. We’ve done well with hot dogs. We won the State Championship the last four years with our hot dogs as well as the boneless ham. This is the third year I’ve competed in the ACMCs, and I’ve placed each year with my boneless hams.