It’s a long way from the sun-baked paddocks of the Wairarapa to the grimy streets of New York, but that’s not counting the persuasive force of Lot Eight extra virgin olive oil and its creator, Nalini Baruch.
Nalini and husband Colin have been producing award-winning oil from their Martinborough grove since 2003, building strong relationships with chefs based both in New Zealand and further afield. One of their most notable fans is Michelin-starred Kiwi chef Matt Lambert, who uses Lot Eight oil at his celebrated New York restaurant, The Musket Room.
Lot Eight’s five oil varieties – which include an aromatic olive oil infused with Heilala vanilla pods, New Zealand-grown saffron, cinnamon and edible rose buds – are currently available across the US and used by chefs in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Further international expansion is expected later this year.
The company’s dedication to quality was recognised last month when it won the Emerging Exporter Award at the 2015 MiNDFOOD Artisan Producer Awards. MiNDFOOD editor-in-chief Michael McHugh said the judges were impressed with Lot Eight’s dedicated personal service and sharp focus on ensuring high-quality and long-term gains, rather than rapid expansion.
The MiNDFOOD win follows two other recent awards – Oilmaker’s Blend picked up a gold medal at the New York International Olive Oil Competition earlier this year, while the Reserve received a Certificate of Excellence from the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan.
Nalini Baruch will share the story of how her oil has made it from Martinborough to the world in a special session at the Guild Conference in Wellington on Friday 16 October. She’ll be joined by Tuatara Brewing’s Richard Shirtcliffe to discuss how they’ve made the move into offshore markets. Don’t miss it! Lucy Corry
Photo: Qingster Photography