South Coast Sea Urchins can now confidently say they have Australia’s most delicious seafood product.
This comes after the Pambula based company was awarded the winner of the from the sea category of the 2016 delicious. Produce Awards.
Some of Australia’s most renowned chefs and food industry leaders joined the delicious. team at the annual awards ceremony earlier this month to celebrate the country’s most outstanding ingredients.
South Coast Sea Urchins was named as the overall winner of the seafood category, in front of six gold medalists and more than 22 other finalists.
Owners Andrew Curtis and Keith Browne said they were very thankful to receive such high accolades from some of Australia’s leading food industry experts.
“All of Australia’s top chefs and experts now know who we are and know that we offer a top product,” Mr Curtis.
As a former abalone diver, Mr Browne saw quotas tightening in the abalone industry so in 2005 he changed his focus to sea urchins and with Mr Curtis started South Coast Sea Urchins.
“Abalone and sea urchins compete in the sea bed and it seemed that sea urchins were winning," Mr Browne said.
The two have been growing their business for the past 11 years and now employ around 45 people who help take their delicacy from the sea and onto the plates in some of Australia’s top restaurants.
But it’s not all about meeting the growing demand for Mr Browne who said a huge part of his work involves encouraging diversity in local waters.
Sea urchins are known for their ability to strip rocks bare, devouring weeds and algae in fisheries.
Mr Browne says their harvesting has actually rehabilitated the local ocean floor, dramatically increasing abalone numbers as well as other marine life.
“When we started farming the urchin numbers were getting out of control, nothing else could survive. Over the past 11 years we have developed a lot of knowledge and now, as a diver, its exciting to see an area turn from baron to thriving.”