GOLD at National Food Producer Awards 2023
Published 28th March 2023 by Whats on Invers - Southland news website, written by Aimee Wilson
Robbies Pickles has done it again – winning another Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Gold award for the second year in a row.
Josie Robinson is the owner of Robbies by Mrs Pickles in Gore, and as well as winning gold for her peach and ginger chutney, the company’s traditional pickled onions won a silver for the first time.
Last year her Artisan Collection Noir Garlik, Black Garlic Sauce won a gold medal, and Artisan Honey and Balsamic Pickled Onions a bronze.
The business has been going strong for eight years now, and many of the original recipes have modern twists and have evolved to meet people’s complex dietary needs.
“I didn’t expect these kind of results, but I did hope to get somewhere.I’m just blown away,” she said.
Josie said winning a second time was important to her company so that people realised they weren’t just a ‘one hit wonder.’
But judging by the amount sold by their nationwide suppliers, and prominent markets around the South Island, including the popular Wanaka Show, it is obvious they are starting to become a household name.
“It’s one of our biggest events.There is so much love from the people.”
This year out of the 220 jars of pickled onions she took to the show, Josie only came home with four, but reckons she could have easily sold more.And that’s only one of the many products she sells.
Growing up in Oamaru where fruit and vegetables were plentiful, Josie said when she first became a mother she yearned for the food she had as a child.
Initially working up to 16 hours a day and sometimes seven days a week to get her products out to suppliers, she now employs part-time staff to help her with some of the tedious jobs, such as peeling onions.
Last year they managed to do four tonnes of onions in her home-based kitchen, and the next job on the list is to move into a commercial kitchen.
There’s always new products being developed – in fact, pretty much anything Josie gets her hands on gets pickled, including most recently jalapeños.
“It was a total accident,like everything is.But the confidence from these awards has given me the courage to be where I want to be.”
Last year she also won the Gore Business Excellence Awards, and one day she hopes to be able to teach others how to cook, currently looking at a business case for a proper school in the district.