The awards are a highlight on the industry calendar and showcase the best of the best amongst New Zealand’s food and beverage industry.

Seek. Connect. Support

The mantra of the NZ Food Awards, the programme aims to:

  • Seek out those innovators and emerging leaders within the industry
  • Connect them with each other and the major players, such as our partners
  • Support them in the next stage of their journey, by telling their stories and using our prize packs to get consultancy, promotion or production time.

Our Judges

With 30 years of experience we have the knowledge to judge the best of the best

Our judges come from a wide range of food-related backgrounds including retail, food service, restaurant and catering, nutrition, food writing, packaging and product development backgrounds.

Celebrity Judges

Small Manufacturer Awards & Finalists of Large Manufacturer Awards
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Nici Wickes

Born in New Zealand and growing up in a large family, Nici was cooking as soon as she could reach the bench top. “My nana and mother were so supportive and encouraging of us kids getting in the kitchen and cooking that I owe them a huge thanks.”

At eight years old her favourite make-believe game was to play host of a cooking show where she would showcase various recipes – Russian fudge, pancakes, chocolate cakes –  from the family kitchen. In 2009 make-believe became reality when she became the presenter for World Kitchen, a new, fast-paced, cheeky travel and cooking show.

Nici has trained as a chef and has run her own catering business but mostly her extensive knowledge of food and cooking comes from travelling the world, learning new ways of cooking and eating.

“My way of travelling is not to do art galleries and museums. I do food. I experience a place through tasting the flavours, by watching who and what’s cooking and picking up ideas and tips so I can recreate and relive the experience back home. When I return from a trip I don’t bore people with photos, I do it with food: ‘Here, try this, it’s something I had recently in Thailand at this amazing early morning market’! And I love showing others how easy it is to make a truly heroic dish.”

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Geoff Scott

Acclaimed chef Geoff Scott has been delighting kiwi diners with his unique style of cuisine, melding the finest European style of cooking with fresh New Zealand produce for over a decade.

Geoff trained under the famous Roux brothers, Alain Ducasse and Michel Rostang, and in restaurants across Europe, before returning to New Zealand in 2005 and taking ownership of his own highly successful restaurant Vinnies in Herne Bay.

Currently Geoff is consulting and lecturing, judging food competitions across the country, and is a regular contributor to BITE magazine.
About to embark on a new phase of education and specialised cooking services, Geoff warmly welcomes anyone interested in good food to check out his menus, tips and tricks, and what he’s got planned coming up.

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Ray McVinnie

Through his years behind in restaurant kitchens, magazine columns, lecturing at AUT and judging on MasterChef, Ray McVinnie has taught many New Zealanders a thing or two about cooking. Ray is one of New Zealand’s most respected authorities on food and is Bite’s consulting food director.

Consumer Judges

Large Manufacturer Awards
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Stuart Barnett

Countdown Supermarkets

Stuart Barnett, Countdown Supermarkets

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Josh Scott

Founder Moa Brewing Company, Consultant Allan Scott Winemakers

Founder Moa Brewing Company, Consultant Allan Scott Winemakers

Technical and Special Award Judges

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Kay McMath

Head Judge

Kay is a consultant to the food industry with wide experience in tasting not only ingredients but consumer goods. She has trained taste panels for the meat, horticultural and food industries since 1987 and is the Chief Judge for both the NZ Juice & Beverages Awards and the NZ Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Awards.

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Dr Abby Thompson

Riddet Centre

Healthy products and manufacturing capability

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Dr Carol Wham

Massey University

Healthy products


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Alistair Sayers

NZ Packaging Council


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Dr John Mansell

James & Wells IP

James & Wells Business Innovation Award

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Craig Armstrong


NZTE Export Innovation Award

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Cherie Flynn and Peter Thompson


MPI Food Safety Culture and Primary Sector Products Awards

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Alasdair Baxter


FoodBowl Best Novel Food or Beverage Award