LOCAL producers have impressed at the 2017 Australian Food Awards, bringing home a total of six prizes from the prestigious competition.
Competition debutants PoppySmack were awarded two Bronze medals for their Vietnamese Dipping Sauce and Siam Chilli Sambal, while North Warrandyte’s Blue Pear Pantry took home a Silver medal for their Gourmet Sausage Rolls.
Ringwood-based Asterisk Kitchen continued their fine form from last year’s competition, winning both the Gold and Best in Class medals for their Fennel and Thyme Lavosh Crackers, as well as a Bronze medal for their Activated Coconut Charcoal Lavosh Crackers.
Conducted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, the Australian Food Awards are the country’s leading national food awards program.
The Awards recognise Australian products and produce across eight categories in which the judges focus on the sensory and technical aspects of the product and its appearance.
The gold, silver and bronze medallists are awarded with a national brand seal of quality and the opportunity to be showcased at international and local trade shows.
The presentation dinner will take place on September 7 in the MasterChef kitchen and it promises to be an appetising night, with award-winning products usually featured at the ceremony’s dinner.
“It will be a fun night – lots of people from the industry, big or small; good food — usually made by a very well known chef,” said Younis Khazour of Asterisk Kitchen.
Deb Graham from Blue Pear Pantry is looking forward to the presentation night, yet still can’t quite believe that she has won an award in just her first entry into the competition.
“It’s very surreal,” she said. “I’m still expecting a phone call to tell me that there has been a mix up.”
Ms Graham believes the secret to Blue Pear Pantry’s success is largely due to high quality ingredients.
“My local suppliers give me fresh produce,” she said.
This prestigious award is sure to give business a boost, with the silver stamp not going unnoticed by potential buyers.
“People’s eyes look at them differently than they have in the past,” she said.
For Hanh Truong of PoppySmack, it is not just about producing great food; it is also about sharing the Vietnamese culture throughout the community.
“I just feel like there are a lot of stories that we can share when we’re at the market,” Ms Truong said.
“It’s always come down to where we’ve come from and what we can bring to all our customers.
“We’d like Vietnamese food to be a common household food — that’s what our objective is.”
The talents of these local producers affect the lives of people in ways much deeper than just their taste buds.
Ms Truong, along with her sister and business partner Tran also use their skills with sauce to raise money for the Welcome To Eltham group – an organisation which strives to make refugees feel safe in the local community.
“We create enough money in the business that we can donate it out and help others,” she said.
“That’s kind of our goal as well.”