Winning Flavours: Food Intro Winter 2024

Image source: Contributed

Jennifer Swaine meets a few local producers who are pleasing palates on a national and global stage.

The Sunshine Coast region has earned a reputation as being a stunning tourism destination – and no one can deny we tick that box beautifully. We are increasingly becoming renowned as a foodie destination and recent wins from a number of local producers are turning heads for all the right reasons.

Winning on the World Stage:

Sunshine & Sons started the year off right with their Original Vodka being named the World’s Best Botanical Vodka in the highly coveted World Vodka Awards. They outshone competitors from 20 countries around the world including Poland, Sweden and Canada.This was followed up in May with taking the Gold at the World Rum Awards for their Nil Desperandum Botanical Rum – as well as a few Silver and Bronze awards to add to the trophy room!

With their impressive array of products earning accolades all over the world, it was fitting that their rum, Nil Desperandum, was named a finalist in the International Onboard Hospitality Awards in the category of Best Onboard Beverage. At the time of going to print the winners had not been named. When talking about their recent wins, Co-Founder Matt Hobson said the wins reaffirmed that we were producing spirits of exceptional quality.

“Together with the team, we work incredibly hard to produce quality spirits that people will stand up and take notice of – and we do it from one of the best locations in the world,” he said.

Setting a new standard in gourmet snacking:

Following hot on their heels were Silver Tongue Foods who make organic, sourdough crackers and gourmet condiments which were awarded a haul of 11 medals at this year’s Royal Tasmanian Fine Food Awards! Among the trophies were two Champions, three Gold, three Silver and three Bronze medals.The sourdough cracker that started Kristina Kucan and Andy Tolson’s journey to launch their business four years ago took home the Gold and secured the title of Champion Baked Product (Savoury). Appropriately named, ‘Fleur’, this cracker is adorned with seasonal and fresh edible flowers that are pressed into the dough before being baked in small batches to deliver a unique cracker where no two ever look the same.

The second Gold and title of overall Champion was awarded to the ‘Spiced Orange’ preserve in the Champion Preserve (Sweet) category; and the final product to be awarded a gold medal was ‘Cowboy Kisses’ in the Savoury Preserves category. These umami flavoured, candied jalapeno pickles are crunchy and spicy, showcasing the artistic talents of Co-Founders Kristina and Andy in combining flavours and textures that truly resonate. Co-Founder Kristina Kucan, said it was an honour to win at such a prestigious Royal event, particularly considering Tasmania’s reputation as home to some of the country’s finest artisan food producers.

“We entered the awards this year seeking formal feedback on our products to gauge our progress and we are so honoured to have received the Champion titles in two categories,” she said.

“It is particularly meaningful that Fleur took the Champion (Savoury) title, as she was the first product we developed. We’ve been humbled by the positive feedback of this cracker, often featured as a special indulgence on grazing platters, both domestically and abroad.

“These awards come at a time when we have recently relocated into a larger premises in Chevallum, facilitating increased production and distribution of our product range.”

Sweet Success:

If you’ve never tried black garlic, prepare to have your world changed! Noosa Black Garlic is best described as the “Truffle of the Garlic World” and is being lauded for its rich, complex flavour and culinary versatility.What began as a passion project by  husband-and-wife team, Tony and Teneille has, in three short years, turned into an award-winning business that has not only won awards but drawn praise from chefs all over Australia. Explaining the product, Co-Founder Teneille Newton said they used organically-grown Elephant Garlic sourced from Noosa and Sunshine Coast farmers.

“It is recognised for its sweet, dark, and umami flavours,” she said. “Aside from the many health benefits, it has the added benefit of not causing garlic breath because the sulphur is broken down during the ageing process.”

While the original Noosa Black Garlic is a standout product on its own, magic happens when they infuse local paperbark honey from the Noosa Hinterland with pureed black garlic cloves that permeate the honey and result in a flavour that is truly out of this world! The awards have been coming thick and fast for the team who also excelled at this year’s Royal Tasmanian Fine Food Awards, taking home six medals. The Black Garlic Honey was awarded Gold before going on to be named Champion Honey of the show. They also took home a Gold medal for their Black Garlic Salt; Silver for their Black Garlic White Balsamic Vinegar; and a Silver and a Bronze medal for their Caramelised Black Garlic Paste.

Without a doubt, the Sunshine Coast has become a region that stands out for its exceptional food and produce and those mentioned in this story are merely the tip of the iceberg. 

It’s worth mentioning that Woombye Cheese won a Silver medal in the Washed Rind category at The World Cheese Awards in Wisconsin recently, making them the second best washed rind cheese in the world!

The list of award-winning artisan producers is both long and impressive. From cheesemakers to chocolatiers, to honey and herbs and spices – you can pretty much find it in the region. While the products are impressive, it’s also about the unwavering passion of the people who turn ingredients into unforgettable culinary experiences, solidifying the Sunshine Coast’s reputation as a true haven for food enthusiasts.

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