They’re made with herbs grown in her own garden, her grandmother’s well-kept recipes – and lots of love.
Josie Robinson was very nervous about presenting her homemade products at the Outstanding New Zealand Food Producers Awards – and she was even more nervous about opening the results when they were emailed to her.
“I was really scared to step outside and go in. People love what I create, but putting yourself forward to be judged is different,” Robinson said.
She needed no fear – her Noir Garlik black garlic sauce won a gold medal and her artisan honey and balsamic pickled onions snagged a bronze medal.
* The Marlborough Toast: Two sandwiches reach the toastie takeover finale
* Three recipes to try from My Darling Lemon Thyme, Every Day by Emma Galloway
She sourced black garlic from Blackball on the West Coast and found high-quality vinegar to use in Noir Garlik black garlic sauce so the garlic was the hero, she said.
The judges’ tasting notes said, “Wow! An excellent finishing sauce. So many ways to use it to add depth and flavor.”
It’s a bit too much for Robinson, who has spent years adapting recipes handed down by his Nana.
“For a sauce that I make, which is made with my heart, it’s really overwhelming for us,” she said.
“It really changed our life, it opened a lot of doors for us. The phone doesn’t stop, and we’re going to meet the best in the food industry.”
But Robinson isn’t going too far just yet.
All of her pickled onions, chutneys, sauces, relishes and pickles, marketed as Robbies after her husband Gus’ grandfather, are still made in her kitchen at the Gore home, which is in renovation course.
Some of the recipes, including the award-winning sauce, can take two days to ferment on his hob, before being bottled and labeled in the garage and sent to a growing list of dealers.
“It means we can maintain quality control because I will not compromise on quality. There are no compromises, they are exactly what they say,” she said.
Robinson has always grown and cooked her own food, but she started taking it more seriously when her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD.
“We took it back to basics without adding anything. I’ve always experimented with flavors and used to make things and give them away until people started telling me I should sell them.
“I really take pride in making gluten-free foods that taste great, there shouldn’t be any barriers to taste for anyone.”
Fast forward seven years, and she’s sold 50 bottles of her now-famous sauce in two days and is heading to Auckland for the awards gala dinner later this month.
“I think I won’t fit in there, but I was told I had to get over it. Everyone will love good food and flavors, so we will all have something in common.”
Gold medals were also won by Invercargill’s Farm Fresh South in the dairy section for its Southern raw milk and Southern pasteurized whole milk, and by the Southland Meat Processor Alliance group for its Pure South Lamb and Pure South Handpicked Beef – 55 Day Aged.