The Love Seafood month celebration has once again proven to be a game changer for Port Stephen over winter, which is traditionally a slow season for the coastal holiday haven. Foot traffic along D’ALBORA Marina at Nelson Bay was recorded at 11,601 over the Farmers of The Sea weekend with local oyster growers; and almost 15,000 over the Fish & Fun weekend of the festival. Love Seafood was staged for the first time in 2016 and with the support of Huon Aquaculture, Commercial Fisherman’s Cooperative, Department of Primary Industries, D’Albora Marinas Nelson Bay, Port Stephens Council and Destination NSW, this year’s jam-packed program offered, even more, to tempt foodies, with plenty of family-friendly activities, through the month of August.
“We’re now seeing groups of producers come forward with great ideas for industry activations that have enabled us to grow the month-long festival into something really special.” Says Danny Eather, Destination Marketing Manager of Destination Port Stephens. “Based on the success of this year’s festival, the organisers feel confident that we are well on our way to establishing Love Seafood as a flagship on the NSW events calendar.”A glamorous,
A glamorous, festival Gala dinner hosted by Broughtons at the Bay was a sell-out, with 110 turning out to feast on the finest Port Stephens prawns and oysters, local lobster and crab, fish and shellfish. Freshly shucked oysters with First Creek Wines sparkling on arrival set the tone for a decadent menu, put together by legendary local chefs Ludovic Poyer of The Poyer’s at Lemon Tree Passage; Ben Way from the iconic Little Beach Boat House and Matt Keyes from popular local-lunch hub, The Little Nel. Each chef shared their absolute passion for local seafood, some sourcing secrets and the inspiration for their delicious creation.
Restaurants all over the region were buzzing throughout August, thanks to the popular Trawler to Table Signature Series of seafood lunches and dinners. The Little Nel was packed to the rafters with 70 locals, holiday-makers and destination-diners, devouring local mud crab, Kingfish and bay prawns as part of a delicious four-course lunch.
“There’s no question that being a part of Love Seafood has been a boost for our business over winter. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our little café to foodies from beyond our region and the festival generates a real groundswell of goodwill among local growers and operators.” Andrew Macdonald, The Little Nel.
Fish to Dish festival lunch and dinner menus were a winner for Little Beach Boathouse according to chef Ben Way.
“Running special festival menus certainly seems to create an incentive for people to get out and try something new. What I love about the festival is the amount of buzz and enthusiasm it creates around the local produce. I was honoured to get my hands on some of the very best local seafood to showcase it to visitors to our region at the gala dinner and live demonstrations over the festival.
A local venue that is all about eating fresh from the source, The Greenhouse Eatery embraced the festival ethos of celebrating the finest and freshest local harvest – from the seas to the field!
“We were excited to offer lunch specials that showcased our amazing local seafood – like luxurious French-style Fish Stew known as “Bouride” that is all about the best of what the boats bring in that morning. Our regulars couldn’t get enough of it! James Davidson, GM The Greenhouse Eatery, Medowie.
A preview tasting of Yellowtail Kingfish, sustainably farmed in the wild waters of Port Stephens was the cornerstone of the venue’s world class culinary adventure, abundant in fresh local produce, for the Trawler to Table Signature Series.
“We treated 80 discerning diners to an evening of surprises, starting with a first taste of the stunning, locally farmed, Yellowtail Kingfish and featuring flavour bursts like faux roe made from apple and saffron, samphire foraged from the rocks off the Bogey Hole, fresh local honey in the frames, nasturtium leaves from our on-site chefs gardens and a medley of our own fresh cut herbs. It was a real triumph for Medowie and Port Stephens!” Mr Davidson said.
An experience of the local seafood, right at the source, is a large part of the appeal of Love Seafood that draws foodies from all over NSW during the festival. Thousands flocked to D’ALBORA Marina at Nelson Bay for an authentic taste of the local harvest at Farmers of The Sea, as more than 40 local oyster growing families brought their oysters and their stories to town. The knives came out for the annual oyster shucking competition as fourth generation farmer “Uncle John Ridgeway” showed them how it was done – opening a dozen oysters in 1 minute in 5 seconds. Dean Cole of Cole Brothers Oysters opened, cut and turned 30 in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. In all, more than 250 dozen oysters were sold to satisfy the appetite of festival-goers, with 60 dozen samples consumed in one afternoon!
“Blue skies and a real sense of community spirit made for a great family day out with our local growers,” Danny Eather, Destination Marketing Manager for Destination Port Stephens.
Festival fun for the family rolled right through to the final weekend of Love Seafood with a Fish & Fun expo featuring chef demonstrations, fresh seafood tastings, touch tanks and educational activities; with live entertainment, open air markets, and free face painting.
“With so many ways to enjoy the amazing seafood unique to our region and now with the support of Destination NSW, we are well on our way to establishing Port Stephens as the premier destination in NSW for fresh seafood.” Mr Eather said.
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Tina Irving m:0403487179 e:Tina@solitaireaustralia.com.au