Fresh is best, and local is even better.
In picturesque Port Stephens, fish mongers and chefs live and breathe local catches, often going to great lengths to offer up seafood caught in our very own backyard.
A five-minute chat with Nelson Bay Fish Market co-owner Darryn Hearn elicits just how much knowledge he has of the local fishing conditions and the passion that inevitably goes along with that.
“We’re all for local [seafood],” he says.
Such is the premise of the annual Love Sea Food festival from 1 August to 1 September, which this year joins forces with Tastes at the Bay food, wine and jazz festival usually held in November.
Destination Port Stephens chief executive Eileen Gilliland says it makes sense to combine the two already-strong events to drive tourism in the cooler months.
“We decided to bring the two events together so that we could merge them into one big, month-long celebration,” she says.
“They were both strong events but by bringing them together, we can create an even stronger event.”
Last year, Love Sea Food drew 11,000 people on day one, while Tastes at the Bay attracted about 10,000 throughout the weekend.
This year, those numbers are expected to rise even further, with plenty on offer throughout the month to suit every taste.
It all kicks off with the Port to Plate Gala Dinner at Broughtons at the Bay on Saturday 3 August, at which a stellar line-up of chefs, including Little Beach Boathouse head chef Ben Way, will plate up a six-course meal matched with wines.
Indulge in a variety of festival lunch and dinner specials offered by eateries all around Port Stephens or get hands-on at the weekly seafood-themed cooking classes at various restaurants.
Rounding out the month with a bang will be the Tastes Port Stephens Food, Wine and Jazz festival on Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September, featuring fresh oysters for sale, tastings, market stalls, live jazz, cooking demonstrations and a cruise of the bay.
For all bookings and event information, visit portstephens.org.au/loveseafood