Delicious / Harvey Norman award local winners
Last month, the dedicated panel of state judges tasted their way around a bounty of local Aussie produce, and have come to a decision on the best of the best.
The delicious. Harvey Norman Produce Awards, now in its 16th year, celebrates and honours the best and most innovative producers and produce in Australia.
The awards aim to encourage, showcase and reward Australian producers, build awareness of culinary regions, and recognise fresh, seasonal food that is produced sustainably with passion and integrity.
The Mornington Peninsula is home to a few winners with Harry Mussel winning in the ‘sea’ category for his amazing Flinders Mussels. Harry’s career on the water began in the mid ’80s as a deckhand cray fishing in the Furneaux Group of islands north east of mainland Tasmania. He then worked as a skipper managing a large-scale operation in Port Phillip Bay, before starting his own mussel farm in the waters of Flinders in 1999. His first harvest of Flinders Mussels was in early 2000. Harry’s mussels are available from his boat, The Seahorse, docked at Flinders pier from late December until mid-winter, when the mussels are on!
In the ‘earth’ category three local winners prevailed: Daniel’s Run Farm for their Heirloom Tomatoes, Hawkes Farm for their Hawkes Kipfler Potatoes and The Fruit Forest for their Rare Heritage Figs.
Cheryll McGaffin of Daniel’s Run Farm in Tyabb doesn’t recall her grandparents using the word “heirloom”; nonetheless, theirs was the process that had been used for centuries to save, grow and cultivate tomatoes. Today, the definition of an heirloom tomato also includes the ability to reproduce true to type when the seed is saved and resown, and to have been in cultivation for more than fifty years. The flavour of these home-grown beauties, lovingly nurtured, was and is superb. They are still grown in soil carefully prepared each year, a ritual that starts in autumn, and picked at their peak ripeness. Interest in heirloom varieties has increased markedly in the past decade. There is a striking array of shapes and sizes, of colours, flavours and uses. They can be found at farmers’ markets, in restaurants, and even in school garden programmes. Previously, it would have been a struggle to buy an heirloom tomato or source some seeds.
Richard Hawkes is a sixth-generation Hawkes farmer. That means Hawkes hands have been pulling fresh fruit and vegetables out of Victorian soil for more than 100 years. Things changed in 2007 when Farmer Richard started growing the trusty potato in a small area on the Boneo farm, and today Hawkes’ Premium Kipflers are served in restaurants across Australia.
The team at The Fruit Forest is passionate about growing rare, unusual and heritage (heirloom) fruits, herbs and vegetables. They grow almost 40 different, named, varieties of heirloom figs because each variety has its own, unique characteristics with each variety having something different to recommend. These days only a small handful of fig varieties are sold commercially. In the plant nurseries, for example, you will generally find White Adriatic, Preston Prolific, Brown Turkey and Excel. In the fruit-shops you will generally find figs with vague names like ‘Black Fig’, which gives no clue as to the fruit’s heirloom name or story. And each heirloom fig does have a story, also called its ‘provenance’.
Affected by severe drought, devastating bushfires, Covid-19 challenges and the floods in New South Wales, it has never been more important to support local farmers and producers.
delicious. magazine’s editorial director Kerrie McCallum said, “Although the pandemic still presents challenges, this year’s State Judging was as exciting as ever. The produce that was tasted across all of the categories was outstanding. Australian producers continue to deliver world-leading produce.”
From here, the state winners’ produce will go on to be tasted by the national judging panel to decide the 2021 gold medal winners and trophy winners, and special award winners.
Good luck to the Mornington Peninsula entrants!