He came to New Zealand in search of a better life, and in return this immigrant gave the country better bacon.Malaysian immigrant Ragupathy Nadason, also known as Sam, was yesterday named the country's top bacon maker and became the first butcher not born here to win the New Zealand Bacon of the Year award for his dry cured, middle-eye, maple bacon.
"I have been a butcher for 39 years, and never in my dreams did I think I would win something like this," said the 51-year-old owner of Sam's Butchery in Kelston, West Auckland.
Mr Nadason said a long-term customer's suggestion to marinate the meat in maple syrup before curing and smoking it made his bacon a winner.
"We took on his suggestion, then we got my family and staff to try it and it got their thumbs-up," he said.
He also won joint-gold in the middle-eye category with New Plymouth's Murray "Buzz" Sattler. Mr Nadason described his early years as "challenging" and said he was forced to leave school at 13 to find employment to support his mother and siblings after his father died.Following his marriage, he moved to Auckland from Kuala Lumpur in 1988 to find a better life.
But after arriving with just $900 in his pocket - money given to him by his sister who died last year - Mr Nadason fell victim to labour exploitation and racism.
Mr Nadason, who now owns two butcheries in Auckland, said it was a "great honour" to have won the supreme award, which had been held by New Zealand-born butchers since its inauguration.
It was also the first time in six years that the award had left Canterbury.
• Bacon of the Year: Ragupathy (Sam) Nadason of Sam's Butchery, Kelston, West Auckland.
• Middle bacon: Caroline Gaisford of Goodman Fielder (Kiwi Bacon) Auckland; Rob Cameron and Simon Harrison of Cameron Harrison, Wellington.
• Shoulder bacon: Gibby and Jackie Campbell of Main Street Butchery, Temuka.
• Streaky bacon: Chris and Sue Brown of Ellesmere Butchery, Leeston, Canterbury.
• Middle-eye bacon: Ragupathy Nadason (Sam's); Murray Sattler of Buzz the Butcher, New Plymouth.
• Dry-cured middle bacon: Brydon Heller of Hellers Ltd, Kaiapoi.
• Consumers' Choice Award: Claire Vogtherr, Holly Bacon Company, Hastings.