The 2020 Judges

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

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.

KathyPaterson credit Anna Kidman

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.


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.

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.

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.