According to Tathra Oysters’ Gary Rodely, patience, a pristine estuary, and attention to detail are the key to their award winning salt-water bivalve molluscs.
“It’s a slow growing bugger of a thing,” Mr Rodely said after their five-year-old Sydney rock oysters took out a Delicious magazine produce gold medal inside designer hotel QT Melbourne on Monday.
“It takes a long time to mature, and you get a better tasting oyster if you give it time, because it becomes richer and fuller bodied.
“This can be a good recipe for going broke when all your competitors grow them quicker, which is why these competitions are so important in showing restaurateurs you have a product worth looking at.”
The pair have won a string of awards during their 30 years as “nurturers” at Nelson Lake inside Mimosa Rocks National Park.
The team were nominated by Monty Koludrovic, chef at Bondi Beach’s Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, who was also a state level judge, and the awards night was a who’s who of Australian foodies.
With judging from cook, food author, restaurateur and food manufacture Maggie Beer, to culinary revolutionary Alla Wolf-Tasker, the pair rubbed shoulders with Australia’s most renowned chefs and food industry personalities.
“It is a great networking opportunity with all these guys who own the top restaurants, and it is a snowball effect once your name is out there,” Mr Rodely said.
Many had come across the Rodely flavour at restaurants like Sydney’s Rockpool Bar and Grill, and Mr Rodely took time to explain their complex hit to the palate.
“What people get first of all is a lovely burst of salt, which is very much a characteristic of the estuary that varies from place to place,” he said.
“Next, they’ll bite in and get a lovely burst of creaminess, and then the creaminess turns into a lovely sweetness that lingers and lingers on the palate.
“You can get a bit of a surprise at the complexities, because the five-year-old has all the things at a max.
“They can become very big, bold flavours, and even the mouth-feel is a full taste.”
As they look forward to the beginning of the oyster season in December, Mr Rodely said the industry is at an all time high.
“Right now there’s more confidence in the oyster industry than ever before, and with new technology growers can grow more oysters, faster,” he said.
While metropolitan restaurants are craving their product, and city foodies are willing to pay a considerable amount of money, The Rodelys enjoy running their business from home, in the serenity of a small coastal town.
“It is nice to see local people proud of what we do,” Mr Rodely said.
“People bring their visitors into the shop to show off our oysters, which is a really nice feeling.”
However, Tathra Oysters were not alone on the night, with Pambula’s Ozi Uni sea urchin roe from South Coast Sea Urchins also picking up a gold medal in the magazine’s From the Sea category – meaning two out of three seafood gold medals were placed in the hands of Far South Coast producers.