Australia's Oyster Coast Merimbula and Wapengo farm producers have taken out a major trophy and gold medals at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.
The South Coast business - that works directly with farmers, wholesalers, and chefs - has taken out the Annual Trophy for the Champion Sydney Rock Oyster with their Merimbula Bistro Appellation Oyster.
Their bistro sized Appellation Oysters from both Merimbula and Wapengo also received more than 90 points, landing them two coveted gold medals for the products.
Sydney Royal Chair of Judges John Susman said the competition rewarded excellence by benchmarking produce in a transparent and objective manner with 60% of the marks in the Sydney Rock Oyster class awarded for taste and flavour and the remaining 40% for visual appearance.
"There was unanimous consensus amongst the judging panel regarding the successful oyster champion," Mr Susman said of the Appellation Oysters Merimbula Bistro that took home the trophy.
Senior Regional Farm Manager for the Far South Coast John Blankenstein said he was proud of the efforts and achievements of the region's dedicated producers.
Along with being the region's manager, Mr Blankenstein also produces oysters at the Wapengo farm shed and assists at the Merimbula farm shed, led by producer Matt Nutt.
"We're all part of a big collective, it's one team that's working towards common outcomes and goals," said Mr Blankenstein.
He said Far South Coast growers were fortunate to get an opening in the weather to send their oysters in for judging ahead of the show, as some of their farm sheds, such as Shoalhaven, had to pull out due to the extraordinarily high rainfall.
It was also real achievement given the challenging Easter period where the region's oyster businesses were forced to remain closed.
"A lot of fresh water will generally led to a closure, because it generally results in an oyster in lesser condition. But also that great influx of fresh water is critical to growing an oyster as they have evolved over time to move, and reproduce in relation to environmental triggers," he said.
He said oyster farmers had to work around the environment which could be particularly challenging in the face of multiple natural disasters.
"But that's what farmers do, we need to adapt and implement strategies and ways in which we can still farm and harvest and make good our operations," he said.
While it was always good to be recognised as a producer growing a top product, Mr Blankenstein said the real recognition was for his team and the wider industry in a broader context.
"It's great that we've got all these individual farmers vying for gold, but what we need to be focusing on, especially given that we've got harder climatic conditions to work with and shorter windows for market, is leveraging off the accolades to invest in more recognition at the Cellar door," he said.
"I don't go out to win gold medal so I can puff my chest up, in my mind anyone can win a gold medal if they know the process and are a patient observer and know how to recognise those quality traits.
"I'd rather see the focus on community and at the farm gate because if we've got a healthy industry, healthy families operating within the industry, then we've got healthy community," said Mr Blankenstein.
He said the best part about gaining awards was the recognition of great produce coming from Australia's regional areas.
Australia's Oyster Coast Chief Executive Officer Devin Watson said the result was a credit to the "passion and hard work" from the company's teams.
"The 2022 results show that we can produce a high quality and consistent product despite the challenges we face as oyster farmers. Our Merimbula and Wapengo teams nailed the quality and should be very proud," said Mr Watson.
Mr Blankenstein said it was a real win for the incredible produce that has continued to be produced in the Bega Valley.
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