At AAMP 2017, editor-in-chief of Independent Processor Sam Gazdziak spoke with John Tiefenhaler, owner of Tiefenthaler Quality Meats, who placed in four categories at the American Cured Meat Championship. Tiefenthaler discussed the process to get a piece of meat prepared and sent to competition.

Sam Gazdziak: John had a fantastic show at the American Cured Meat Championships. John, how many categories did you place in total?

John Tiefenhaler: We placed in four categories. In Smoked Turkey, we got Grand Champion. In Semi-Boneless Ham, we got Reserve Champion. In Smoke Sausage with Added Ingredients—we add cheese to our smoke sausage—we got Reserve Grand Champion there. In Fermented Cooked Summer Sausage, we got Reserve Grand Champion in that as well.

Gazdziak: So the smoke turkey, they have on display out, and not only does it taste fantastic, it actually looks excellent as well too. Can you talk a little bit about the process you take to get that prepared and sent here?

Tiefenhaler: It’s a challenge. We’re proud of our turkey, and we’ve won a few times with it, and every time we show up, we are really excited to place. We do a handful of turkeys. We smoke one night. Look at the color. Make a decision. We smoke another night. Look at the color. Make decisions. I’ve got three or four different people who hang the turkeys, so they can learn from each other on the best way to set the legs, pull the skin, hide the skin, to pull it over the neck to make it look as good as it possibly can, so it’s quite a process.

Gazdziak: With your company, I had the chance to go out there 10 years ago. For those of you who might not have had the chance, if they have to go to Tiefenhaler Quality Meats in Holstein, Iowa, what are a couple of the products they just got to try?

Tiefenhaler: We do a ton of snack sticks. Our jerky is huge. We do a heck of a lot with skinless brats, and we are still known for our no-mess chili dogs that we have in 100-plus grocery stores.

Gazdziak: Thank you very much, and congratulations on the great job!