The 2019 Judges

The Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Award judges are a distinguished panel of Kiwi experts from food, media, nutrition, sustainability and design led by New Zealand’s Lauraine Jacobs.


Lauraine Jacobs, Head Judge

Internationally respected food writer, author and editor of nine cookbooks Lauraine Jacobs heads the judging panel. She is a Past President of the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) and Food Writers NZ and a regular speaker and contributor on New Zealand food and wine.

Lucy Corry

Lucy Corry

Lucy Corry is a Wellington-based journalist, food writer and communications consultant. She loves to cook, eat, read and write about food and the people who make it and as such is ideally qualified to contribute to judging New Zealand’s most outstanding food producer. Lucy contributes to NZ Life & Leisure.

ONZFPA Judge Allyson Gofton

Allyson Gofton

Once the face of television’s Food in a Minute, Alyson has been cooking and writing about food for New Zealanders for almost 30 years. She is an award food writer having had 17 years as Food Editor of NEXT magazine and published well over 20 books. Allyson has more recently been living in SW France with her family, soaking up the regional foods and culinary traditions of the Haute Pyrenees. Allyson has returned to writing via BITE magazine and with COAST radio. A self-confessed techno-phobe, Allyson keeps making promises to get into social media, but then chooses life with wine and cheese … in her vege garden with hubby Warwick and the kids.

Sam Mannering

Enzo Bettio

Enzo Bettio comes to the judging panel with the belief that believes that New Zealand’s market edge is in niche products. He would know, he established Delmaine in 1980 growing it to be one of the country’s leading deli brands before selling it in 2002. These days he runs a deer farm, boutique winery and restaurant in Clevedon. Vin Alto, the restaurant showcases his venison products, wine made from traditional Italian grape varietals and his family’s warm Italian hospitality – not to mention his lemon liqueur!

Anna King Shahab

Anna King Shahab

Auckland-based freelance food and travel writer Anna King Shahab is a frequent contributor to titles such as the New Zealand Herald, Cuisine, Metro, and Toast, and over the past decade has sat on the judging panels some of the country’s most prestigious culinary awards programmes.

Amanda Thompson

Amanda Thompson 

Amanda is passionate about food, ingredients and NZ producers. As Category Sales Manager at Moore Wilsons, she oversees all departments from the Fresh Market and Foodservice, through to Wine, Beers and Spirits and Kitchen, Homewares and Toys.  Amanda works closely with the category managers and the Moore family who have just celebrated 100 years in the grocery trade.  Having joined Moore Wilsons over 20 years ago in the Fresh Market when it first opened, she continues to be inspired by local and international food trends and products, always on the hunt to bring the best products to their hospitality and retail customers.

2019 judge James Thomas

James Thomas

James Thomas is the managing director of New Zealand Cheese Ltd which specialise in supplying independently made cheese from around New Zealand, to food service, delicatessens and overseas markets. After studying science at University he began his career as a maker in Switzerland in 2012, then worked in Holland, Norway and France.  He spent two seasons making under Albert Alferink at Mercer Cheese while completing the NZ Cheesemaster program before two years in London in the role of Assistant Manager of the Wholesale department of La Fromagerie.


Tamara Rubanowski

Tamara was born in Europe and moved to New Zealand 30 years ago. She is a passionate Foodie, has a Science degree from Auckland University, and is a member of Foodwriters NZ. She is Head of Content at FMCG Business and experienced industry awards judge, assessing everything from chocolate, to cheese and sausages.

NZ Food Producer Judge Mat McLean

Mat McLean

Mat McLean is Head Chef and Owner of Hamilton’s Palate Restaurant. He has won numerous awards including Best Regional Restaurant in the Cuisine Restaurant of the Year Awards (2011 and 2012). He is a great supporter of artisan producers in the Waikato and committed to cooking with fresh seasonal, local produce. Mat is regarded as one of this country’s best red meat chefs and is a lifetime Platinum Beef & Lamb New Zealand Ambassador.

Judge for the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

Kathy Paterson

Kathy Paterson’s career spans Cordon Bleu teaching in London and New Zealand, running her own successful catering business and co-authoring cookbooks. Kathy is a food writer and food stylist for the New Zealand Herald Bite Magazine and the New Zealand Beef + Lamb Magazine. Kathy is Immediate Past President of Food Writers NZ.

Judge for the judging panel for the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

Emily King

Emily King (nee Dowding-Smith) is the Founder of Spira, a social enterprise that is cultivating change in our food system. Emily is an environment lawyer and scientist (MSc/LLB) specialising in food systems. She works on projects with community groups, councils, and businesses across New Zealand that improve the sustainability of our national food system. She ran the Sustainable Business Network’s food project for three years and has worked and studied around the world on food systems, from the gardens of Havana, Cuba to global food systems and sustainability in Europe. She convened the 3rd and 4th Resilient Cities conferences in Bonn, Germany and in 2013 she created (along with the FAO, RUAF) the Resilient Urban Food Systems Forum. Emily grew up on a dairy farm in Taranaki, is a permaculture practitioner, and like most foodies enjoys growing, cooking, and eating good food. She brings a wealth of sustainability practice knowledge to our panel.

Hayley McLarin

Hayley McLarin

Hayley McLarin is an experienced writer, magazine editor and PR consultant – and enthusiastic cook. Last year she had a six-month series on farmers markets in the NZ Herald and has helped many food brands – from corporates to emerging brands to artisan – as a PR consultant.


Aaron Pooch

An engineer by profession, Aaron has spent the last 11 years judging food and dairy in New Zealand and recently in Australia too. He loves judging is passions, cheese and ice cream. In the engineering field, he has 21 years working in the New Zealand, Australian, American and Irish dairy and food industries. He splits his working time between Waikato, New Zealand and Victoria, Australia where he loves to eat and drink (too much) and takes a great interest in new and novel foods. Aaron can often be found trout fishing and hunting in the North Island wilderness. He catches and processes everything himself with care and respect for the animal and its environment.

Janene Draper

Janene Draper

Janene and her husband James opened their first Farro Fresh store in Lunn Ave, Auckland in 2006 with zero food retail experience! Starting on the “smell of an oily rag” with just 12 full-time staff, the idea was to open a one-stop fresh food market that stocks everything in a cookbook. They particularly wanted to support NZ artisan producers. Farro Fresh now has 6 Auckland stores and employs over 350 staff.

Andy Aitken

Andy Aitken

A native Dunedinite, Andy has completed the circuit of working in Wellington and Melbourne later returning home to Dunedin. In Melbourne, he truly learnt his trade (and his trademark tea towel whip) working at Michelin-rated Lynches and Di Stasio’s. After returning home to Dunedin, Andy was Head Chef at Scotia for 5 and a half years and Sous Chef at No 7 for 3 years and owned Mash for 12 years. His incredible passion for food and fondness for the odd pint of Emersons also made him top of the list for Head Chef when the Emersons Taproom was established. In his tiny amount of spare time, between work and looking after his four gorgeous kids, he enjoys knitting spare beard hair into socks for homeless puppies.

Richard Emerson

Richard Emerson

Years ago, a young Richard Emerson sent a postcard back from his OE telling how he would set up a brewpub in Dunedin one day, inspired by those he found whilst travelling. His passion for craft beer is only matched by his passion for food, and for the joy of finding a perfect pairing of beer and food! Richard’s dream was kept alive during all his years’ brewing, and his partnership with Lion in 2012 helped to speed up bringing this dream to fruition. On the 4th of July 2016, Emerson’s Brewery & Taproom opened at 70 Anzac Ave, a stone’s throw from Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Mikey Newlands

Mikey Newlands

Mikey Newlands has been a chef for 17 years and has worked around the world in Melbourne, London and the south of France. He was sous chef at The Grove 2009-2011 and Head Chef at Bracu 2011-2016. He is now owner and executive chef at Ampersand Eatery in Auckland which he founded with his partner Amanda in 2017. Mikey has been an NZ Beef and Lamb Ambassador 2014-15 and was runner-up in the Silver Fern Farms Restaurants Awards 2015.

Michelle Jones

Michelle Jones 

Michelle is President of Food Writers NZ and has a passion for exploring new places, connecting with local people, their culture and food. She launched The Foodie Inc blog to share her love of New Zealand food, wine and places to go, after commencing her Masters and photographing a cookbook.  Michelle brings extensive marketing, communications and content generation experience across a broad range of industries from hospitality to retail and financial services.  She graduated with a Le Cordon Bleu Master of Gastronomic Tourism in November 2018.

Lorna Subritzky ONZFPA Judge 2019

Lorna Subritzsky

Lorna Subritzky has worked in radio and television for almost 30 years, mostly in managerial roles but more latterly her natural ability to communicate has taken her behind the microphone where she is currently the nationwide daytime host on Coast. In her spare time, she wrangles three children, two cats and a dog with her husband. Other than family, her great loves are good food, good wine and good company.