A second food award is a ray of sunshine amid a time of drought and pandemic for Turakina farmer Richard Redmayne.
He founded and, with farming partners, owns the Coastal Spring Lamb brand. Its lamb backstraps have won a gold medal in the Outstanding New Zealand Food Producers Awards, announced on March 24. Other gold winners in the category were beef and chicken products, and eggs.
The awards are judged 75 per cent on taste, 15 per cent on sustainability and 10 per cent on brand. Judges said the lamb backstraps were "a real class act", with sustainability built in, consideration for animal welfare and care for the land.
They are a great cut - 100 per cent lean meat, simple to cook and with many applications, Redmayne said.
In 2016 Coastal Spring Lamb was the supreme winner in the New Zealand Food Awards.
There aren't many New Zealand food competitions but Redmayne enters all he can.
"It challenges you as a producer to come up with new ideas and measure yourself against other food producers."
He and wife Suze ran their own competition last year, the Coastal Lamb Challenge. In it New Zealand and overseas chefs had to pair the lamb with a seafood. The New Zealand winner was chef Mat McLean, from Palate restaurant in Hamilton, and the overseas winner was a chef from Hong Kong.
The prize was $5000 and the celebration was a dinner for 60 in Hamilton on February 14 this year, with farmers, their families, chefs and food writers.
The Redmaynes are "pretty excited" about this latest win, especially as it comes during a drought and at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is cutting into demand from restaurants.
"Good news is few and far between. It's good to have something to share with the team that's positive," Redmayne said.
He started Coastal Spring Lamb in 2011, and added Coastal Lamb in 2015. The meat is supplied by 17 farms on the east and west coasts of the North Island.
Each year 80,000 to 90,000 lambs are killed for the brands at Ovation meatworks in Feilding.
The meat is sold in some North Island New World and Pak'nSave supermarkets, Moore Wilson's in Wellington, Farro Fresh in Auckland and to North Island restaurants. It is also exported to 13 countries, including Belgium, the United States, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam.
The Redmaynes have been spending 60 to 70 days a year travelling, visiting markets and building relationships. But at the moment Richard Redmayne is home in Turakina with his tractor and chainsaw, being a full-time farmer.
With travel and tourism off-limits in a pandemic world, he and Suze are focusing on selling their product online. The backstraps are an ideal online product, he said, and the gold medal has come at a good time.
"We are pursuing the online opportunity to keep some business flowing. For us, it's fantastic timing."