Chef and food critic Ray McVinnie will lead the judging panel for the 2010 New Zealand Food Awards.

The annual NZ Food Awards, in association with Massey University, will identify the best food products New Zealand delivers, with categories from dairy products and convenience to food business.

The awards support innovation and creativity by recognising companies that achieve excellence. This year, winners will be able to display the Food Awards mark on their products, giving the buying public a clear sign of the quality of the product.

Mr McVinnie has been a food writer and adviser at Cuisine magazine since 1992 and is now the magazine’s food editor. He also writes a weekly column in the Sunday Star-Times. He has judged the Corbans Food and Wine Challenge and the New Zealand Cheese Awards for many years. He was on the international jury for the Italy-based Slowfood Awards, and has also twice been on the panel of judges for the World Food Media Awards. He is also a judge for television’s Masterchef programme.

Joining Mr McVinnie in judging the awards will be Cuisine deputy editor Fioan Smith, Farro Foods director Janene Draper, Restaurant Association trustee Merv Ah Chee, Massey University food scientist Dr John Grigor and the Heart Foundation’s Dave Munro. Mark Kippenberger of KPMG will judge the Food Enterprise Innovation awards.

Mr McVinnie says the team are excited about discovering what innovative New Zealand food companies have come up with. “We’re hoping to see some really novel ideas when we judge next week. We’re looking for products with a point of difference, that can make a mark on the world stage and continue New Zealand’s impressive record in food innovation.”

The awards will culminate with a gala dinner at Auckland’s Langham Hotel, where category finalists will be showcased and winners will be announced, including those in special categories and the supreme winner.

Supporting sponsors are the Ministry of Economic Development, the Riddet Institute, KPMG, the Heart Foundation, AsureQuality, O-I New Zealand, and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology.

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