The Judges

The Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Award judges are a distinguished panel of Kiwi experts from food, media, nutrition 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!


Jane Boyle

Jane Boyle has been part of the New Zealand and Australian wine industries for more than 30 years and is a highly sought after wine judge and consultant. With experience in most facets of the wine industry, Jane’s expertise has seen her judge at numerous international and national wine competitions, including the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. Jane has also judged the NZ Champion of Cheese Awards and NZ Gourmet Oil Competition.


Julia Moore

A fourth generation Director of family-owned Wellington food emporium, Moore Wilson’s, Julia Moore has fresh produce in her blood.  Moore Wilson’s began in Wellington as a general wholesale merchant, from the day the doors opened it’s been managed by the Moore family. Built around the food service and hospitality industry, Moore Wilson’s is where chefs shop. Nowadays it offers those same restaurant quality ingredients to the public. Julie runs the business alongside father Graeme and brother Nick and is passionate about supporting New Zealand’s many outstanding growers and food producers.


Niki Bezzant

Niki Bezzant is a writer, speaker, editor and commentator. She is founding editor (now editor-at-large) of Healthy Food Guide magazine, a columnist for the Herald on Sunday and a frequent contributor to broadcast media. Niki has been involved in the food media for nearly 20 years. She founded the website for Cuisine magazine and was that title’s first web editor. She is president of Foodwriters New Zealand and a proud ambassador for the Garden to Table programme. She is a member of the Council of Directors for the True Health Initiative, a global coalition of health professionals dedicated to sharing a science-based message of what we know for sure about lifestyle and health.

Chef Sam Mannering

Sam Mannering

Sam Mannering loves good food and cooking with beautiful, fresh ingredients. He is a food columnist for Sunday Magazine and chef and co-owner of Homestead and Company in Auckland. His first cookbook, A Year’s Worth: Recipes from Dunsandel Store, focusses on the seasonality of food. His latest book, Food Worth Making, is an eclectic collection of recipes from home and abroad. Sam is a talented actor and a graduate of London’s Central School of Speech of Drama, with a Masters in Film Acting. In 2016 he appeared in the series Hillary on TV One. He’s passionate about New Zealand food and a member of Food Writers NZ.

Trudi Nelson one of the judging pane;

Trudi Nelson

Long time broadcaster Trudi Nelson is the voice of TV3 and More FM New Zealand. A passionate foodie, Trudi launched Fresh in 2004. In 2016 she founded Saturday Fresh on Radio Live. With husband, Mark Nelson, Trudi has launched The Fresh Factory, a studio and event space in Auckland’s Eden Terrace. Trudi is a Past President of Food Writers NZ.

NZ Food Producer Awards judge

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.


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.

Anna Tait-Jamieson NZ Life & Leisure Food Editor

Anna Tait-Jamieson

Food Editor of NZ Life & Leisure, Anna Tait-Jamieson brings hands-on experience to the judging panel as a former restaurant owner and co-founder of a fresh food manufacturing and distribution company. She has worked as an agricultural journalist for Radio New Zealand, made food and farming features for broadcast and profiled many of the country’s artisan producers for newspapers and lifestyle magazines.


Cameron Douglas MS

Wine writer and commentator, judge, reviewer, presenter and wine consultant, Cameron Douglas lives his life around his enthusiasm for all things beverage – teaching, travelling, tasting and talking. He judges and presents wine regularly in the USA, the UK, Australia and Asia. He’s also author of a monthly wine column for FMCG Business.  Cameron takes his position as unofficial Ambassador for New Zealand wine seriously, ensuring he regularly spends time in every wine region.


Suzanne Sparrow

Suzanne started her career as a chef, before moving to boutique corporate catering. She joined Farro in 2006 when the first store opened. Since then Suzanne has been part of the business, helping it grow to five stores across Auckland. As Grocery and Homeware Category Manager she has a diverse portfolio from basic pantry staples to unique culinary ingredients and a wide range of small artisan products. Working with artisan suppliers keeps Suzanne inspired, she’s always on the search for the next winning item to add looking for products that have a unique story, origin, taste, packaging and a point of difference.