Supreme Champion is chosen from each of the four category champions – Dairy, Earth, Paddock and Water. In addition to each category champion, gold and silver medals are awarded for outstanding products. A special award, the NZ Life & Leisure Spirit of New Zealand Award, recognizes an entrant with an outstanding story across a broad set of principles including community involvement, environmental consciousness and product quality. This year’s winner, Turk’s Poultry of Foxton, is a deserving recipient on many fronts – see page 133. Other special awards include: Outstanding New Product, Outstanding Design, Outstanding Sustainability and Outstanding Drink.
Head judge Lauraine Jacobs oversaw the judging of 186 products from throughout New Zealand by an expert panel including NZ Life & Leisure Taste editor Lucy Corry, chefs, retailers and food writers.
“Judging is not easy given the talent of food producers and the quantity of fine fare. Paddock entries – lamb, beef, chicken and venison – were of an even higher standard than in 2017, with the growing paddockto- plate trend evident in the number of thoughtfully created brands. Baking remains a big par t of our national food psyche with some delightful entries, many catering to folk with allergies and intolerances. It’s a privilege to be a par t of this competition, leading the professional judges who have a complex job assessing this high number of excellent products,” says Lauraine.