Whanganui has come out top of the tastebuds at New Zealand's premier food awards.
In front of 400 guests at a gala dinner at the Auckland War Memorial Museum last night, Whanganui's Coastal Spring Lamb claimed the supreme accolade at the 2016 New Zealand Food Awards.
The brand - founded and owned by Turakina farmer Richard Redmayne - was a finalist in four categories, and won the export innovation and chilled foods awards before collecting the Supreme Award for its lamb rack.
Judges were particularly impressed with the process used to grow, market and sell the product from pasture to plate. The judges - chef and food writer Ray McVinnie, cookbook author Nici Wickes and Auckland restaurateur and award-winning chef Geoff Scott - were impressed with the process used to grow, market and sell the lamb from gate to plate.
They said the extensive research Mr Redmayne's company had done to understand market requirements and to produce cuts to the standard expected, had resulted in a high quality product traceable back to the farm.
A record number of entries for the NZ Food Awards ended up with nine products from 11 companies making last night's finals. Among them was Whanganui duo James Chatterton and Mike Cheyne of the Mash Tun company whose crackers made from the waste brewing grain saw them in the final mix for the novel ingredients award.
The awards are run in association with Massey University whose vice-chancellor Steve Maharey said the calibre of entries this year was so high that being named a winner was a huge achievement. "The strong interest in this year's Food Awards is a testament to the development and growth of the sector," Mr Maharey said.
"Massey University is proud to provide a forum to showcase new initiatives and celebrate quality New Zealand food and the people who are making our food industry the best in the world. We share a vision of New Zealand securing a reputation as the world's leading producer of quality, natural, healthy, nutritious food that people everywhere love to eat."