Awards from Quality Food from Waikato

The Waikato has long been known as a producer of quality primary products but two food producers are proving the region is just as adept at turning good local products into great food.

Sweetree Honey and Frank's Sausages have both taken awards at the Taste Magazine Farmers Market New Zealand Award for the quality of their foods.

The annual award is an opportunity for regional food producers to show-off the quality of their wares and stimulate extra business in the process.

Sweetree Honey run their business on the outskirts of Hamilton and co-owner, Stephanie Lynch, said their honey was up against stiff competition from jam, pesto and preserve producers but they still came out with the Highly Commended from the Kitchen Bench award.

"There are about 40 or so farmers markets around the country and each one will have 40 to 80 storeholders so there would have been quite a few producers entering."

Mrs Lynch said they also won awards at the National Beekeepers association awards last week and puts the success of her family business down to preserving the natural flavours provided by the bees.

"Lots of beekeepers will take all the honey from different apiaries and churn it into a homogenous blend of honey," she said. "We keep ours quite separate and collect our honeys at different times of the season. You get quite different flavours depending on time of year and what trees are flowering at the time."

In Te Aroha, husband and wife team from Frank's Sausages, Frank Nagel and Sheryn Cook, won the best value added product in the Tastiest Food from the Butchery category.

"We feel that the competition is so much higher than any other sausage award that we have been involved in," Ms Cook said.

The award reflects the quality of sausage they are producing and their commitment to the product, she said.

"We are all about using the premium cuts of meat and not adding any kinds of fillers and we are only ever using free range meat."

Running a small business is tough Ms Cook said, but winning an award gives them the motivation they need to keep getting better.

"Anybody who is making and selling sausages at a farmers market knows it is not easy but it has got to be good."

The awards were judged by Christchurch chef Jonny Schwass, Masterchef Nadia Lim and food writer Julie Biuso.

Originally published in Waikato Times, July 2012.


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