Burntisland butcher scoops ‘Holy Grail’ award

Tom with his prizewinning haggis. Pic by Fife Photo Agency
Tom with his prizewinning haggis. Pic by Fife Photo Agency

A Burntisland family butcher’s is celebrating this week after winning the ‘holy grail’ of awards for its haggis.

Tom Courts in the town’s High Street was crowned Scottish Haggis Champion 2019 at the Scottish Meat Trade Fair in Perth last weekend.

Tom with his award from the Scottish Meat Trade

Tom with his award from the Scottish Meat Trade

The High Street shop scooped the award with its 50-year-old secret family recipe – passed down through two generations, with only a few changes.

And after a very difficult time for the family, with the tragic death of Tom’s nephew Calum, who worked in the shop, it was a bit of welcome news.

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Tom Courts junior, who took over the sole running of the business when his father retired for good two years ago, said it had always been his ambition to win the award.

“We were reserve champion with our haggis four years ago and I thought that was it, so to win this year has been absolutely tremendous and has given us a huge boost,” he said.

“I always said that I would retire a happy man if I won this award, which really is the holy grail of the meat industry.

“When you think about Scottish food and drink you think of whisky and haggis, so this is a great honour.

“This recipe has been in our family for over 50 years and it has basically remained the same, with just a few tweaks.”

The champion handmade haggis beat off stiff competition from over 70 butchers from all over Scotland to lift the fiercely contested title.

Tom’s haggis won the East of Scotland regional title before going on to take the national championship.

“One judge told me he knew it was a winner when he tasted it because he said he would be happy to eat it every day,” said a delighted Tom.

Tom opened the Burntisland shop in September 2016 after a break following the closure of the family’s Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly shops when his father retired in 2015.

It put the family full circle as Tom senior had opened his first butcher’s shop in Burntisland in 1973.

And Tom junior, who works alongside his sister Lorna, described winning the award as the high point of his career so far.

“Since we opened the Burntisland shop almost three years ago now we have increased our turnover by 700 per cent,”Tom said. “In our second year in business we won the best new butcher’s shop title and now we have won this – it’s fantastic.”

“Calum would have been very proud,” added Tom. “It’s the one prize that has eluded me until now and I want to dedicate it to him.

“It was also an honour my dad always wanted and he was the first I told of our success. He was absolutely thrilled.”

Tom Courts will hold the championship title for the next two years.