Sponsored by Sydney Royal
On Thursday last week, The Versatile Gent was invited to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the President’s Medal Award at an exclusive black tie, ticketed dinner at Sydney Showground’s The Stables which unveiled “Australia’s best producer”. The night celebrates the hard work of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) and the world of Sydney Royal. You might have seen champion, gold, silver and bronze Sydney Royal medals plastered on premium products in your local deli, bottle shop or supermarket.
The Sydney Royal medals are awarded throughout the year at separate shows specialising in beer & cider, wine, spring & summer fine foods, chocolate as well as cheese and dairy, and the judging criteria is essentially based on flavour. Over 5500 products are entered across all shows. The Champions of these shows are able to progress to the next level and enter the President’s Medal awards. The RAS then selects just finalists for the prestigious award, which is based on what they call the ‘triple bottom line’ – meaning the judging process takes a deep dive into the company’s environmental, social and economic credentials.
The evening was hosted by celebrity chef Lyndey Milan, OAM with speeches made by the President of the RAS, Robert Ryan, OAM who read a note of congratulations from the Governor of New South Wales. 200 guests guests accompanied a list of prominent names within Australia’s food and agriculture industry, there to celebrate the best of the best and taste a sensational three course meal created by Tim Browne, Executive Chef, Sydney Showground.
There are so many food and wine award shows around the country, but interesting none of them drill down as deeply into a company’s ethics to determine greatness as the President’s Medal, which is what makes the award so prestigious. The judging panel, consisting of Michael Bullen, Jim Stephan, Tim Browne and Simon Marnie (who came up with the concept of the award a decade ago) ensure the products are not only perfect for the everyday consumer, but potentially supermarkets and restaurants too.
So who is the best? This year’s finalists were: Serendipity Ice Cream for Death by Chocolate; SOUMAH of Yarra Valley’s 2013 Single Vineyard Chardonnay; Yabby Lake Vineyard for their Single Block Release, Block 2 Pinot Noir; Tyrrell’s Vineyards for their Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 2006; Australian Agricultural Company for their Darling Downs Wagyu and; Pacific Reef Fisheries sashimi grade cobia.
Deservedly, the President’s Medal went to Pacific Reef Fisheries, a Queensland company with the potential to revolutionise the aquaculture worldwide. Its cobia product is a brand new product to the Australian market and is regarded as a premium “five star” sashimi grade fish. It was also noted, Pacific Reef Fisheries has adapted an artisan farming technique to Australian conditions, making their production – so it’s an environmentally friendly product.
If you’re interested in finding out about competition winners, Sydney Royal releases the ‘Little Book of Winners’ three times a year. It’s free to download and includes all the winners from all the Sydney Royal competitions so you can get some top class produce on your shopping list and support Australian agriculture. The eBook is available on GooglePlay and iBooks at www.sydneyroyal.com.au/lbow