Naracoorte producer Ananda Organic is celebrating its third consecutive Australian Food Awards (AFA) gold medal win.
Owners Robert Wallis and Liz Crowley are over the moon after their most recent win, claiming two gold medals at the 2017 AFA for their Korean Style Pickled Garlic.
“We were absolutely thrilled to pieces – you could say we’re pickled pink,” Liz laughed.
“The biggest kick was the Consistency of Excellence Award,” Robert added.
After just two years of trial upon trial and eventual production, the pair entered the garlic into its first AFA in 2015.
The garlic was an absolute hit with the judges, winning Robert and Liz gold that year, and the next two years, to earn them the Consistency of Excellence Award for 2017.
“Our first entry we picked up gold so we thought ‘we’re onto a winner here’ – we nearly got 100 out of 100,” Robert said.
“It really confirms that all the hard work is paying off and our products really are of a high standard,” Liz added.
“We use local, organic products as much as possible and if we can’t find it we’ll source it.”
The AFA gold medals should speak for itself, but the judges raved about the product.
"It practically leaps into our mouths every year. I guess when I'm scanning the judging table I'm hoping that it will be there,” one judge commented.
“Not that we know for sure given it's a blind tasting, but the taste, aroma and flavour wins me over every time.
"An amazing pickling liquor and a very moorish product."
The pair was also ask to feature the garlic in the event’s showbag as one of the most successful products, an honour they were thrilled to receive, but they had to turn it down.
“They told us we’d been selected for the showbag and we’d need to provide 2000 jars – we only produce 90 jars at a time,” Robert laughed.
59-year-old Robert argues he’s always been an “organic gardener”, reminiscent of following his grandmother around her vegetable patch.
“She used to say ‘if something grows well in your backyard it will keep you well in your backyard,’” he said.
“We’re going back to our roots.”
Meanwhile, Liz grew up around food, her father invented the Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs before moving into the restaurant business.
However, garlic production was still a far cry from their former jobs – Liz working for the Queensland Premier and Deputy Premier, and Robert was an electrical engineer working on multi-million dollar yachts.
They were traveling around Australia on the harvest trail and bought a small block of land in Naracoorte where they found it difficult to find fresh produce, and decided to produce their own.
“We both have a strong belief in you are what you eat,” Liz said.
The pair said they’re not taking their products overseas, but keeping it local – available at Magic Earth Health Foods Naracoorte and online via www.anandaorganicaustralia.com.
They are also breaking into the national market by selling produce in Sydney at the fabulous Iggy's Bread in Bronte.
Robert and Liz are also encouraging their customers to watch this space – moving into chilli and caper production soon.