Shane Snedden was yesterday honoured for his four-decade service to hospitality at the annual Hunter Culinary Association Food Fight.
He received the award for "outstanding contribution by an individual" from past winner, friend and association founder Robert Molines at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.
The prestigious award is usually reserved for chefs and restaurateurs however Snedden's nomination and subsequent win recognises the fact that producers, providores and suppliers help form the backbone of a successful restaurant.
Snedden is the founder of Shane's Seafoods, which started out as Cessnock Seafood in 1981, and his name is synonymous with fresh, quality seafood. He has since retired but is a frequent visitor to Shane's Seafood at Carey Bay, and the company that still bears his name now supplies more than 40 restaurants, cafes and clubs.
"I arrived in the Hunter in 1973 and in those days I could not source good produce from here," Molines said.
"In 1981 a seafood shop opened in Cooper Street, Cessnock, serving fish and chips but also supplying fresh fish direct from the Sydney market - how revolutionary this was! I automatically became friends with Shane, who had so much knowledge in seafood.
"He studied the potential need to supply fresh seafood and deducted that the Hunter region and Cessnock had a great future and he wasn't wrong.
"Shane has been a legend in not just supplying the best, but establishing consistency for the future in the hands of his proteges for the good of the Hunter region."
When accepting his award, Snedden talked about his early days in business, which included travelling to Sydney twice a week to scour the fish markets.
"I'd bring back all this fresh fish and he (Molines) would be waiting. He was like 'What is this?'. He didn't know one fish from another, but he certainly knew how to cook," he said.
"I watched all the restaurants grow around me, basically, and I shifted my focus from resale to looking after restaurants and it was a great move, I think."
As for the Food Fight, this year's contest saw Sydney chefs Joshua Raine (Tetsuyas) and Alexis Besseau (Restaurant Hubert) take on local chefs Michael Portley (Humbug) and Thomas Waite (Bistro Molines). Each chef anonymously prepared one course for 350 diners, who then voted for the winning dish. The annual event raises money for a range of Hunter Culinary Association scholarships.
Portley's third course - mafaldine with smoked pork rib, mustard greens and cured egg - was voted dish of the day.
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