A paddock in Wingham is the last place you’d expect to see the TV celebrity chef known as Fast Ed.
Yet there he was, on Tuesday morning, December 4, surrounded by fat shiny cattle and long, lush green grass on a paddock on Bungay Road.
Ed Halmagyi, as he is more properly known, was in town to judge Wingham Beef Exports and its Manning Valley … Naturally branded beef for the Royal Agricultural Society’s annual President’s Medal.
The medal is considered the pinnacle of Australia’s Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food competitions.
Wingham Beef Exports is one of six national finalists vying for the top prize, which judges the businesses’ overall social, environmental and commercial integrity.
“The President’s Medal is a unique one because it is one of a kind in Australia,” Ed, who has been a President’s Medal judge for four years, said.
“We know we’ve got some really strong food and drink based companies around the country who routinely win champion products.
“But we want to know not just what they make, but WHY they’ve been so successful. What is the blueprint, so that other businesses can say ‘right, that’s how we do it!’?” Ed explained.
Australian agriculture and food and drink production has a lot of brightness ahead of it, but we want to give the very best opportunities. So we’re looking for those leaders and here at Wingham we reckon we’ve found one.Ed Halmagyi
Wingham Beef Exports has been named a finalist not just for the excellence of their product, but because of their commitment to the traceability of each beast from paddock to plate, and their sustainable work practices.
“They started off by taking a grass fed product that eclipsed all of the grain fed and Wagyu products to win Champion Beef Product in blind tasting and also in carcase at the 2018 Sydney Royal. Now that’s unheard of; it doesn’t happen,” Ed said.
“But the reason that it does happen is because you have a company whose commitment starts at the planning process in negotiating with the individual producers.
“And not just any anywhere, it’s within a 200 kilometre radius of where we’re standing now. So it’s localised, it’s managed, it’s done through effective genomics, and then each and every carcase is measured for some seriously important criteria at every step along the way. That’s unusual – it shows a commitment to excellence to the extent that any factor that is not above grade, it just goes into a different product stream.
“Manning Valley … Naturally, which is the brand name they’ve given to their premium product, really does represent some of the best beef in Australia,” Ed said.
Grant Coleman, general manager of Wingham Beef Exports, is thrilled to be in the running.
“I think it’s a great thing for the whole community and our whole area, and I thank all of our producers and workers at Wingham Beef for all the excellent work that’s been done over many, many years,” Grant said.
“It’s just acknowledgement that what we’ve done has worked.
“I feel very happy. We’re a small town, a small community in a regional area, and I think we do things very well here and it’s a good thing for everybody,” Grant said.