The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Outstanding Food Producers’ culinary champions revealed

Outstanding Food Producers’ culinary champions revealed

Chefs looking for more premium New Zealand made products will have over 250 new culinary champions to choose from following their recognition in the 2024 Outstanding Food Producer Awards.

The medal tally was 137 Gold; 76 Silver and 48 Bronze from a remarkable 355 entries from 122 New Zealand food and drink producers, judged at Auckland’s Homeland restaurant last month. 

Head Judge, Lauraine Jacobs, who led 23 experienced food judges assessing the products, said the medals were a morale boost for producers affirming their hard work, while giving customers a guide to locally made products that they can purchase with confidence.

“After eight years we’re seeing more new products entered each year and I believe producers have more imagination and show more innovation in presentation and taste as they develop new food ideas. There’s always a danger that new ideas can be over the top but this year there was plenty to stimulate the palate, which managed to provide flavour while retaining allowing real, natural to shine without being over-processed,” says Jacobs.

A judging highlight was a dedicated chocolate category, merging the NZ Chocolate Awards into the awards, which were tasted by experienced chocolate judges Elle Coco and Renny Aprea

Sixty chocolate products were assessed with 18 receiving Gold Medals, 13 being awarded Silver Medals and 11 collecting a Bronze Medal. New chocolatier, Ao Cacao was recognised with four Gold Medals, two Silver Medals and one Bronze Medal. Of the Gold-Medal-winning Ao Cacao 94% Tablet Bar Samoa Single origin chocolate the judges said: “Great temper and aroma which drew the judges in….excellent flavour which lingered with a silky mouthfeel.” 

New Zealand is known for great honey but the range of distinct flavours, coupled with excellent texture in so many of the honey entries this year was notable and worthy of 10 Gold Medals.

An additional seven Silver Medals and one Bronze Medal were awarded to locally produced honey. Of the Branch Creek Honey Raw Clover Blend Honey judges said: “It’s so smooth and shiny. We love the natural crystallisation and the viscosity and colour are gorgeous. An excellent honey.”

Likewise, Jacobs said the Paddock category entries, specifically beef and lamb in a variety of cuts, demonstrated that our farmers are paying painstaking attention to growing exceptional grasses that allow their animals to feed on exemplary diets.

Tenderness, sweet flavours and deliciousness won 16 of the entries Gold Medals.  Meat with Us won a gold medal for their Certified Organic Ribeye Beef farmed and produced at the Hukarere Station, West Otago. Judges described this Ribeye Beef as follows: “It’s got a delicate and elegant flavour with good chew and great mouthfeel.” 

High-scoring Gold Medal winners are in contention for Category Champion Awards which will be announced at the annual Champions Party on Thursday 18 April 2024. 

The Outstanding Food Producer Awards celebrate the best of New Zealand’s food and drink producers, recognising excellence and innovation in food and non-alcoholic drinks. Launched in 2018, the Awards have become a prestigious platform for showcasing the diverse and exceptional offerings of Kiwi food and drink producers to food lovers.

Over three million Outstanding Food Producer Award medal stickers are affixed to top products annually, providing consumers with assurance to purchase quality, local products assessed by industry experts.

A full list of the 2024 winners is here.

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