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By Lauren• 5 Dec 2018
Born in Fiji to Indian parents, Nalini’s background and food values play a large part in the development of Lot Eight products.
“Our food was always wholesome and pure. My paternal grandparents were farmers, and some of my memories of tasting beautifully grown produce come from raiding my granddad’s farm on the way to the river for a swim with my cousins,” says Nalini.
“I come from a food family, it sits at the core of my heritage. At breakfast, we’d discuss what to have for lunch, and at lunch we’d discuss what to have for dinner. Spices were always made from raw ingredients and influences from my mother and father.”
Nalini moved to New Zealand in 1981 and met her now-husband Colin in 1989. Nalini studied political science and law, and worked at BNZ, New Zealand Dairy Board, Telecom and as a barrister. Colin has a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management and has worked for Mobil Oil, IBM, MetService and now owns business consultancy cwb + associates.
The Baruch’s purchased their Martinborough land in 1997 and quickly changed the business plan to harvest olives for themselves and create a premium New Zealand olive oil brand.
Martinborough is an ideal location to grow olives – and Nalini’s skill in blending cold pressed oils and fragrant oils has resulted in Lot Eight picking up several well-deserved awards, including Best in Class in the same category two years in a row at the NZ Olive Oil Awards. Lot Eight is also committed to sustainable farming practices – producing natural and preservative free olive oils.
Nalini’s inspiration for Lot Eight comes from different aspects of her life, including growing up in Fiji with farmer grandparents, Colin’s passion for the primary industries, her love of wholesome food and olives, and meeting local producers.
“If you have tasted peanuts straight from the ground, mangoes, watermelon and sugar-cane freshly picked, you will understand where my palate comes from. My family’s cuisine is about different oils, mustard and fenugreek – many of which, people won’t be used to,” says Nalini.
Nalini and Colin sold their oils at Wellington’s well-loved Kirkcaldie and Stains after they launched Lot Eight and remained suppliers until the premium department store closed. Nalini is most proud of the relationship she’s built with the food industry and specialty shops.
“The food industry has become a beautiful relationship, and I have the incredible opportunity to work with many of the chefs I have admired over the years and continue to follow. Our product developments have come from some of these chefs and their trust in my ability to make interesting cold-pressed fragrant oils is humbling.”
Recently, Nalini’s cold-pressed Yuzu olive oil was awarded runner up in the Cuisine Artisan category at the NZ Food Awards.
“Our Yuzu olive oil is the product of the most fortuitous meeting over lunch at Japanese restaurant Cocoro in Auckland.
“The lunch was organised by the NZ Food Writers Guild and the venue chosen by NZ culinary doyenne, Lauraine Jacobs. The distinctive taste of yuzu in the dressing created and served by Chef Makoto piqued my interest. Yuzu can be grown in New Zealand and before I knew it, I had promised to look into making yuzu olive oil for Chef Makoto. We were already making cold pressed citrus olive oil and I imagined it would not be too difficult to make yuzu as well. I was partly right. Yuzu is a little more involved, but it is worth it!”
Some of Nalini’s proudest moments with Lot Eight include finding the first olives on their trees and tasting their first oils in 2002, taking the oils to San Francisco as part of NZTE’s initiative during the America’s Cup, and taking the oils to Sydney and Melbourne as part of a Wellington On a Plate pop-ups, and hearing Australian culinary legend Maggie Beer praise Lot Eight.
We’re sure there are many more to come.