JOHN Bartlett works ridiculous hours at his Maryborough butchery ensuring his hams are just right for Christmas.
He starts work at his shop soon after 6am and finishes after 6pm and it is this dedication that has seen his hams judged the best in Australia.
Then it's home to the wife and children for some family time before he's back to work about 9pm for another stint until about 2am.
For three months before Christmas it's a seven-day job.
"It's what we have to do to keep up with the supermarkets," Mr Bartlett said.
"Do you think I could get people to work those hours? No, that's what the owner has to do.
"I'm not on my own, other small businesses are doing it."
Not a great way to celebrate winning meat's Olympics.
Three well-credentialled judges munched their way through 146 entries to select Wattle City Meats in central Victoria as No.1 in the traditional bone-in leg ham and second in the boneless ham category in the Australian Pork Ltd awards.
A butcher for more than three decades, John has been making hams "using trial and error" for 12 years.
His father was a meat buyer, so he has learned to have exacting standards with the specifications for all the animals that pass through his shop.
He insists on only using top quality female pigs from Diamond Valley Pork but was wary about giving many other secrets away about his pickling, cooking and smoking processes.
"Everyone has got their own way to do it but we say our best ingredient is time. We are small enough to treat our legs individually and give them the time."