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It is just three years since former Syrian refugee Abdal Moneem Kayassah started to make a life for his family in Dunedin, but his food is already garnering national attention.
He has opened his own catering company in the city and sells his flatbread, zaatar, shatta and cheeses at the Otago Farmers Market.
His zaatar incorporates Central Otago thyme, which works well the seeds and nuts he uses in the product.
In the same section, artisan small-batch natural preserves maker Tineke-Maree Sutton from Taste of the Alps won bronze for her Central Otago Cherry Relish, featuring Cromwell cherries.
‘‘It couldn’t have come at a better time,’’ Sutton says. ‘‘This award opens doors for our products, appears on more shelves and reminds me we are producing outstanding products for Kiwis.’’
It comes on the back of being a finalist last year for pinot noir quince jelly.
Also in the ‘‘Earth’’ section is Wanaka-based Augustines of Central, which won a bronze for its quince and feijoa paste and silver for its apricot jam.
Managing director Simon Berry was thrilled with the results.
‘‘It’s a nice positive at this time of crisis.’’
He was ‘‘particularly impressed’’ with the company’s leading black label cheese results plus the emergence of its halloumi as ‘‘a solid high-quality performer, now a back-to-back gold winner’’.
Wanaka ice cream company Pure New Zealand won a gold in the dairy section for its boysenberry ice cream and silver for its blackcurrent and coconut gelato.
Each product was assessed for its aroma, appearance, taste, texture and quality which accounted for 75% of marks. Products were then assessed for sustainability and brand story.
Whitestone is now in the running for the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards Supreme Champion and Emerson’s Dairy Champion awards as well as a range of special awards which will be announced on April 21.