'Meat' the big winners: Lakes Processing brings home four awards from annual convention
The Detroit Lakes business won a first place Minnesota Association of Meat Processors award for a sweet summer sausage containing wild rice, maple syrup and other unique ingredients. The business also took home awards for its bacon, smoked pork, and other specialty meats.
DETROIT LAKES — A uniquely sweet summer sausage, tasty bacon, smoked pork and other specialty meats made by Lakes Processing left judges salivating at the 80th Minnesota Association of Meat Processors Convention in mid-March.
The Detroit Lakes business returned from the St. Cloud, Minnesota convention with four awards: First place in the Minnesota Grown Product category; second place in Bacon; third in Cooked and Smoked Pork, and; fourth in Specialty Whole-Muscle item.
Their top-honors Minnesota Grown creation — a summer sausage seasoned with a secret recipe and enhanced with wild rice — started with a notable flavor that received nods of approval from customers, but Lakes Processing's summer sausage meat artist, Baxter Bachmann, was not satisfied.
“There was a little something missing that would bring it to the next level,” Bachmann explained, adding that at some point pure maple syrup was tested as that additional 'magic' ingredient. “It made a huge difference.”
Each category within the competition had a list of things that judges looked for in every entry — some were more open-ended while others were specific. The Minnesota Grown Product entries, for example, were required to contain a meat ingredient and have at least 80 percent of the ingredients grown in-state.
While the Bachmann family believed they had contenders in several categories of the competition, they never presumed to be the best of the best.
“When we went down there, I was confident we may get in the Top 10,” Bachmann said. “Then, after looking at all the products and what others brought, I told my mom I just wanted to go back to the hotel. We’re a little ma and pa shop in northern Minnesota competing against some giants.”
The Minnesota Association of Meat Processors is one of the largest and most active organizations of its kind in the state, and thus its contest winners are held in high regard. It is common to see each category at the competition have upwards of 50 entrants.
Bachmann is the son of Sarah and the late Brad Bachmann. His brothers, Hesston and Tanner, also work at Lakes Processing, and their mom, the owner of the business, was beaming with pride because of the awards her sons collected.
“I’m very proud,” she said. “They have big shoes to fill, but I believe in them. Honestly, when they won, it took everything in my power not to cry.”
The shoes she was referring to are her husband’s. He won many awards himself before his death in October 2021 at the age of 56. The family noted that in the wake of their loss, the support they found from customers and the community was as vital and appreciated as the assistance they received from close confidantes.
Lakes Processing is located at 18776 Highway 59 in Detroit Lakes.