There’s always excitement at this time of year as we dive into the Cuisine Artisan Awards and learn of the ideas, ingenuity and hard work that makers put in to turn New Zealand’s top-quality produce into innovative boutique products. “Partnering with the New Zealand Food Awards again this year has given Cuisine a fantastic resource to work with, says Kelli Brett. “Their attention to detail with regard to ingredients and labelling has given us a wealth of information to bring to the judging table.”

Congratulations to all of the artisan producers who take the time to perfect their craft, hunt out the perfect ingredients and try and try again until it’s as good as it can be. Kathy Paterson, well-respected food writer and a member of the judging panel reinforces the value of the awards to producers. “The awards give an independent endorsement of quality and drive awareness of artisan producers and those clever, hard-working people behind them. It’s brilliant playing a part in the support network of our people,” she says. Petra Mihaljevich, Marketing Manager of Farro Fresh and a fellow judge took inspiration from seeing not only the innovation in food products but also producers using artisan time-honoured production techniques and the best locally-grown ingredients to create some truly delicious products. 

So, here are the 20 finalists in the Cuisine Artisan Awards 2019. 

Alexandra’s Fine Foods (2009) Ltd, Alexandra’s Rose Harissa Paste
Augustines of Central, Augustines Preserved Sundrop Apricots in a Riesling Syrup
Bellefield Ltd, Cultured Butter Miso Flavour
Bellefield Ltd, Manukau-infused Ghee
Betsita’s Ltd, Betsita’s Red Chimichurri
Flourish Foods Ltd, Dairy-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Gelato
Forage & Ferment, Mexi Kraut
Go Wild Ltd, Go Wild Chatham Island Freeze-dried Honey
KK ME Ltd, Gluten-free Chicken & Coriander Dumplings
Lot Eight Ltd, Lot Eight Chef Blend Cooking Oil
Nature’s Foods Ltd, Nut Brothers Peanut Butter Super Crunch, 500g
Poaka New Zealand Ltd, Poaka Coppa, 60g Platter Pack
Reflection Foods Ltd, Raspberry Road Gluten-free Muesli
Scoop Gelato NZ Ltd, NY-style Beef Brisket Pastrami
Te Mata Figs, Fig Molasses
The Drunken Nanny Ltd, The Drunken Nanny Goat Milk Kefir
The White Sheep Co, Sheep Milk & Honey Gin
Wild Game Salamis, Beard Brothers Authentic Goat Sausage
YUM Inc Ltd, Coffee Deluxe Granola
Zamati Ltd, Pohutukawa-smoked & Sous Vide-cooked Angus Beef Brisket 

The winner will be announced at a gala dinner on 23 October 2019. For details of this and the full list of finalists in all categories of the New Zealand Food Awards go to 

“Every year I’m astounded by the quality of products from the huge number of artisans in Aotearoa and the breadth and diversity in competition. Each year the products seem to get better and better and therefore the competition gets tougher, which makes our jobs as judges even more difficult,” says Ginny Grant, Cuisine senior food writer and head of the judging panel.

“The top 20 finalists are the full package. They have exceptional products which tend to have a focus towards local, quality ingredients and have carefully considered their packaging and sustainability practices. They all have a great New Zealand food story to tell about their products and how they came into being, but most importantly, their products are simply delicious with great balance and depth of flavours. They are a joy to eat and savour.”

Let’s celebrate the taste-makers.