Outstanding Food Producer Awards Champions Revealed

Outstanding Food Producer Awards Champions Revealed

Mind Your Temper vegan Black Forest Bonbon described by judges as ‘faultless’ has been named Leefield Station Supreme Champion and Bonbon Champion at this year’s Outstanding Food Producer Awards.

Crafted from plant-based chocolate made with coconut milk powder, Mind Your Temper Black Forest Bonbon is one of a range of treats which creator, Christchurch’s Nel Vincencio says surprise people when they learn they are vegan. “A funny thing happens if I say something is vegan or plant-based. People become suspicious and expect it won’t taste good.”

Nel Vincencio

The Outstanding Food Producer Awards judges weren’t discouraged; they said the Bonbon had “Perfect gloss and shine. Outstanding developed flavour. Exemplary. Amazing flavour journey. Faultless.”

Mind Your Temper Leefield Station Supreme Champion and Bonbon Champion awards were among a haul of 13 medals, including six gold ones for the dessert-maker at this year’s Awards.

They were among more than 250 New Zealand-made food and non-alcoholic drinks recognised for their quality, which received medals in the 2024 Outstanding Food Producer Awards. Seventeen Champions were selected from 137 gold medal winners, chosen from a remarkable 355 entries from 122 Kiwi food and drink producers judged at Auckland’s Homeland restaurant in February.


• Leefield Station Supreme Champion and Bonbon Champion: Mind Your Temper Black Forest Bonbon

• Farro Earth Champion: Branch Creek Honey, Raw Clover Blend Honey, Cardrona Valley

• Emerson’s Meat Champion: (Joint winners) Pure South Handpicked Beef 55-day Aged Ribeye & Matangi Angus Beef, Matangi Bavette

• Seafood New Zealand Water Champion: Akaroa King Salmon Fillet

• Leefield Station Dairy Champion: (Joint winners) Charlies Gelato Lemon Gelato & Island Gelato Co Rich Chocolate Gelato

• Chocolate Bean-to-Bar Champion: Foundry Chocolate Ea Kar, Đăk Lăk, Vietnam 70%

• Label & Litho Drink Champion: Six Barrel Soda Yuzu & Mandarin Seltz Drops

• Free-From Champion: NaturKidz Fruit Crispz Range

• FMCG Business Outstanding New Product Champion: Paneton Bakery Authentique Toulouse Sausage Rolls

• Farro Outstanding New Boutique Product Champion: Opito Bay Salt Company Kampot Pepper Fine Sea Salt

• BYD Auto New Zealand Sustainability Champion: Hamlin Road Organic Farm

• Emerging Business Champion: Wild Child Ferments

• NZ Life & Leisure Spirit of New Zealand Champion Award: Oakley’s Premium Fresh Vegetables

• Coast Kiwis’ Favourite Farmers’ Market; Hawkes Bay Farmers Market

• Coast Kiwis’ Favourite Food Producer; Lindsay Farm Dairy

Of this year’s 17 Champions, only four are new entrants – all the other producers have received Outstanding Food Producer accolades in previous years. Three of the Champions are ‘pandemic babies’, there’s a mix of old businesses – Oakley’s with the sixth generation of the family working on the business and new ones, with two Champions coming from ventures started in the previous two years.

Mind Your Temper is one of those pandemic babies, with Filipino-born baker and pastry chef Nel Vincencio establishing his Christchurch business in 2020 and just recently growing it to employ an assistant three days a week.

Jess Curtis of Branch Creek honey is one of the intergenerational family winners. Born and bred in the Cardrona Valley on a fifth-generation family farm Jess developed her business after her grandfather Ray introduced her to the magic of bees, with the hives he kept to pollinate the farm’s clover pastures. Branch Creek Honey, Raw Clover Blend Honey, Cardrona Valley was named Farro Earth Champion.

Two producers share the title of Emerson’s Paddock Champion Pure South Handpicked Beef 55-day Aged Ribeye and Matangi Angus Beef, Matangi Bavette. The Matangi Bavette, a lesser known cut, is similar to a flank steak. The Outstanding Food Producer Awards judges said;

“Stand out product…great clean taste. Mouthfeel and texture totally impressed all the judges. Fantastic barbecue cut.”

Seafood New Zealand Water Champion Akaroa King Salmon Fillet comes from one of the multiyear winning producers. Of the King Salmon Fillet this year’s judges said; “The perfect portion size meant that the texture was excellent. Nice salinity, fresh taste.”

Affirming Kiwis’ love affair with gelato, Charlies Gelato Lemon Gelato and Island Gelato Co, Rich Chocolate Gelato were jointly awarded Leefield Station Dairy Champion.

No stranger to these awards, Foundry Chocolate was announced Chocolate Bean-to-Bar Champion for its latest release; Foundry Chocolate Ea Kar, Đắk Lắk, Vietnam 70%. In 2020 its first year of entry Foundry Chocolate was named Outstanding New Business and also NZ Chocolate Awards Supreme Champion, since then it has won multiple medals. Cacao beans this entry came from Vietnam’s Đắk Lắk province, recognised for quality cacao with intriguing flavours suggestive of silky crème brulée, buttery toffee and delicate woody spices.

Label & Litho Drink Champion Six Barrel Soda Yuzu & Mandarin Seltz Drops taste great and contribute to a better world. Just a couple of drops of Yuzu & Mandarin Seltz Drops lift carbonated water to another level with the judges noting the “bright, fresh aromas true to the seasonal ingredients providing its natural flavours”. One 50 ml recyclable bottle makes the equivalent of 50 cans; saving stacks of aluminium cans being produced.

Free-From Champion NaturKidz Fruit Crispz range is a new Nelson business established by food marketer Bonnie Slade. A mother of two school children, Bonnie wanted a healthy product for school lunch boxes – that wouldn’t return home at the end of the day. NaturKidz starts with good quality but blemished fruit which would usually end up in landfill creating a healthy, minimally processed, no additive, no preservative snack.

A collaboration between two former Outstanding Food Producer Awards winners took out the FMCG Business Outstanding New Product Champion: Paneton Bakery & L’Authentique Toulouse Sausage Rolls.

Started when Perry Cornish and Erin Mone abandoned their city jobs in (the year of the pandemic) 2020 and headed to Coromandel, Opito Bay Salt Company Kampot Pepper Fine Sea Salt was awarded Farro Outstanding New Boutique Product Champion. Opito Bay Salt Company were first recognised in 2021 when they were named Emerging Business Champion.

BYD Auto New Zealand Sustainability Champion Hamlin Road Farm – Pathways Health is also a second-time winner. It was Outstanding Sustainability Champion in 2021. Hamlin Road Farm is an organic, commercial vegetable grower as well as a mental health and addiction service. Herbs and vegetables are grown while working to emphasise the importance of relationships between people and the land while recognising the critical link between good nutrition and mental health. As well as its sustainability credentials, Hamlin Road Farm fresh grown vegetables caught the judges’ taste buds, being awarded five gold medals.

Emerging Business Champion Wild Child Ferments from North Canterbury is a small single person start up. Olivia Johnson developed a passion for fermentation while travelling and working in British Columbia when her tent neighbour shared fermented foods at their campfire dinners. Now mother to a two-year-old ‘wild child’ living on her husband’s Greta Valley family farm and fermenting, Olivia’s small business offers eight sauerkrauts and two kimchis.

Oakley’s Premium Fresh Vegetables was named NZ Life & Leisure Spirit of New Zealand Award winner. Robin Oakley is the fifth generation of Oakley family to farm in Southbridge, Canterbury, while his daughter April is the sixth. All their vegetables are grown with an eye on long term sustainability, with all management decisions considered against the environment and people as well financial levers. This approach drove the installation of a solar electricity generation system which powers the washing and packhouse and all their refrigeration.

The final two awards were chosen by popular public vote. For the second time Lindsay Farm Dairy was named Coast Kiwis’ Favourite Food Producer. The Hawke’s Bay certified Bio Grow organic farm sell all of their milk directly to consumers who showed their appreciation by voting them number one. They also won two gold medals in this year’s Awards. For the first time the Kiwis’ Favourite Farmers’ Market was Hawkes Bay Farmers’ Market. Hawkes Bay Farmers’ Market is open to the public every Sunday from 8.30am – 12.30pm.

The judges

This year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards judging panel, led by Lauraine Jacobs, was: Peter Gordon (Homeland); James Wilkinson (Executive Chef, The Glasshouse); Kathy Paterson (Cookbook Author and food judge); Renny Aprea (Pastry Chef and international food judge); Tamara Rubanowski (FMCG Business Head of Content and food judge); Elle Coco (international chocolate judge); Amanda Thompson (Moore Wilson’s, General Manager); Mat Mclean (Palate Restaurant, Chef/Owner); Connie Clarkson (experienced food judge); Geoff Scott (food judge and AUT Culinary Lecturer); Ginny Grant (food writer and judge); Lucy Owen (Farro, Deli Category Manager) John Kelleher (AUT Culinary Lecturer); Vicky Tasker (Farro, Content Editor); Johnathon Robertson (Farro, Merchandise Manager) Lorna Riley (Coast presenter and experienced food judge); Ness Baxter (experienced food judge); Paul Jobin (Consultant Chef); Alice Taylor (food writer and MasterChef NZ finalist); Matt Casey (Source Kitchen, Chef/co-owner); Emma Boyd (NZ Life & Leisure recipe developer); Kelly Gibney (food writer and author); Kate Underwood (food writer) and Sustainability Judges; Emily King (Director of Spira, author and food systems expert) and Fiona Stephenson (Sustainable Business Network).

Look out for winning products wearing Champion, Gold, Silver and Bronze Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medals – a promise of produce made in New Zealand, which tastes outstanding! More information on www.outstandingfoodproducer.co.nz.

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