By DAVID HILL
Two North Canterbury sisters are “pretty stoked” to win six gold medals in the “Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Awards”.
Rangiora-based Sophie Macdonald and her sister Lucy, who lives at Lanercost near Cheviot, won six gold medals in the annual awards from different lamb cuts from their family business Middlehurst Delivered.
It was the first time the sisters had entered the awards, after only launching the brand into the retail market in November 2020.
Middlehurst Delivered was established as an innovative way of allowing the sisters to stay connected with the family farming business.
The different cuts of lamb were competing against lamb, beef, chicken, venison, sausages, duck, eggs, pies, garlic and truffle mushrooms.
The gold medal winners in each category will now go up for the overall category and supreme winner awards, which will be announced in Auckland on June 21.
“We’re all flying up to Auckland, so it will be pretty cool to connect with the other winners and meet new people,” Lucy says.
“It will be fun to see how the other producers are doing and learn from them,” Sophie adds.
The sisters say it is very much a family effort.
Their parents Willie and Susan Macdonald run the 16,550 hectare Middlehurst Station in Marlborough, while their brother Henry runs a finishing block at Cheviot.
Between the two properties, the family runs 11,000 Merino sheep and 1200 Angus cattle.
“Henry has done an amazing job in managing to get the lambs ready on time,” Lucy says. “At this time of year it’s not easy to have lambs ready to be killed, but he’s managed to do it which allows us to do what we do.”
Sophie says the pair have enjoyed considerable growth in their first 18 months, supplying direct to customers and getting more into high-end restaurants and “boutiquey supermarkets”.
“With growth comes challenges, but we are ready for those challenges,” Sophie says.
The family has enjoyed a strong relationship with the Harvest Restaurant in Blenheim, which features Middlehurst lamb on its menu.
“They have supported us from the beginning and we have dined there, and they do such a wonderful job of presenting it,” Sophie says. “It’s a pretty surreal feeling when you go to a restaurant and order it off the menu and it tastes so good, and it’s always good when someone else cooks it.”
While Middlehurst Delivered has been “keeping it Kiwi” up until now, the family is looking forward to tourists returning, as there is a guest lodge at Middlehurst Station, where a chef cooks up local produce including Middlehurst lamb. Chartered helicopter flights are also available from Kaikoura, where tourists can experience where the Middlehurst lamb is produced and sample gold medal winning lamb racks.
Giesen Paddock Medals category for its lamb rack, oyster shoulder, lamb short ribs, ribeye, backstrap and rump.