While seaweed, sea urchins and abalone are much sought after in overseas markets, a special event was held this month to highlight the flavour and versatility of the locally sourced delicacies to aspiring Far South Coast chefs.
COVID-19 has been a double-edged sword for the local seafood industry, with producers losing revenue from valuable overseas markets. But this has also seen prices drop to the point where it is more viable for Australian restaurants to use them.
Aspiring young chefs are being encouraged to add the delicious seafood delicacies to their menus after being given priceless hands-on experience at a special event at TAFE NSW Bega on 14 March.
Held in the new Multi Trades Hub at Bega, Southern Ocean Harvest was brought together with leaders from the Far South Coast seaweed, sea urchin and abalone industries, local chefs and restaurateurs, and TAFE NSW commercial cookery and hospitality students.
One of a series of hospitality industry support nights hosted by TAFE, the event showcased local boutique seafood industries, and saw renowned chef and Australian Culinary Federation director Julio Azzarello prepare the produce in tandem with TAFE NSW commercial cookery students and teachers.
TAFE NSW head teacher of hospitality Deirdre Jory said the event was aimed at showing local apprentice chefs how to buy the products and how to prepare local seafoods for local menus.
“Chefs have the power to change the world because they influence what people eat,” Ms Jory said.
“These products used to be so high-end, it was hard for local restaurants to use them.
“Our commercial cookery students got to work with great chefs in the process and our hospitality students get experience doing real-world service.
“TAFE NSW plays an important role in helping support local industry and this is another great example.”
Among the industry figures assembled were John Smythe from the Abalone Council of Australia, Andre Sanderson from La Rose Noir, and Elkie Travers from the Seaweedery and Nestle Golden Chef’s Hat.
Co-owner of Moruya premium sea urchin producer Sea Urchin Harvest, Rachel Theodore, said the industry support night was an important way to raise the profile of their business among locals.
“We were excited to supply our sea urchin roe, so others may experience what is a little known local, highly prized seafood delicacy,” Ms Theodore said.
“TAFE NSW is so important to regional NSW. For most locals, it’s the first step forward towards their future careers, allowing many to enter the workforce with confidence and skills.”
The event follows a successful mental health support night for the local seafood industry at TAFE NSW Bega last year.