Latest news

The Award Winning Flavours of Otway Preserves

The moment you walk into the Otway Preserves kitchen, you know something magical happens there.

The first thing you notice is the mouth-watering aroma that comes from years of making preserves, relishes and chutneys. Next you eye the shelves stocked high with jars and packages of all manner of goodies.

Otway Preserves has been preparing top shelf products for more than 20 years. Originally established in the Otways by Richard and Patricia Gilbert, the business moved to Fyansford just outside Geelong in 2003 after being bought by Debra Bryden-Horniblow and Chris Horniblow.

Debra and Chris are no strangers to food production. Debra had been the bakery manager at local baking institution Weiser’s Bakery in Geelong West. Meantime, Chris developed a career within the corporate food sector including with the Goodman Fielder Group.

This combination of the local knowledge and corporate experience provides the perfect balance for identifying how to produce and market quality goods using the best ingredients.

A taste for quality

Relocating the business to Fyansford was a practical move to improve access to buyers in Geelong and Melbourne through a more central location. However, it is Otway Preserve’s commitment to using only the best available Australian produce combined with small batch production that sets it apart from others.

Chris says they only produce up to 50 jars of each batch at time to guarantee both flavour and nutritional value.

“When you cook with big amounts you need to cook it longer so it loses that flavour. Small batch production is more labour intensive and time-consuming but we get a lot of positive comments from customers because we have a really good product and we want to keep it that way. We’re more focused on quality than profits.”

And production quality is matched by ingredients sourced as locally as possible. If the best can’t be found nearby, it is still sourced from Australian growers. Tomatoes come from the Goulburn Valley, strawberries from Healesville and Geelong and raspberries from Healesville and Tasmania.

Chris: “We always try to get the best possible quality. Obviously, we have to be mindful of getting the best price as well but quality comes first and price comes second.”

Attracting wider attention

The company continues to grow through word of mouth but is starting to gain interest from Australia’s top food judges. In its inaugural entry in last year’s Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria’s Australian Food Awards, Otway Preserves took home a silver medal for its top-selling Raspberry Preserve and bronze for its Tomato Relish. They are now looking to enter up to 12 products this year.

The Raspberry Preserve is also one of Chris’s favourites, suggesting it is best served heaped on a fresh crumpet. And if you’re not a sweet tooth, he recommends trying their Kasundi. It combines tomatoes, spices, chill and vinegar to make a tasty side relish or dipping sauce, adding a magic touch to any meal.