Nelson Bay fisherman Greg Finn and The Poyer's at Lemon Tree Passage team up to expand seafood offering

THE POYERS: Lemon Tree Passage chef Ludovic Poyer and his wife Mandy with a seafood dish with a difference. Picture: Supplied

THE POYERS: Lemon Tree Passage chef Ludovic Poyer and his wife Mandy with a seafood dish with a difference. Picture: Supplied

The pandemic has been challenging for many, but for one Port Stephens diver and chef the desire to diversify has led to unexpected rewards for themselves and diners.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Nelson Bay fisherman Greg Finn - who supplies a range of restaurants with his catch - quickly realised he would need to change the way of doing business.

"Traditional market demand dropped immediately after the government's announcement that pubs, clubs and restaurants would close. It forced an abrupt decline in trading conditions at no notice," Mr Finn said.

"This was after the immediate halt of export species into international markets. It remains a challenge."

A short boat ride away in Lemon Tree Passage, chef Ludovic Poyer and his wife Mandy were brainstorming ways to expand the menu at their renowned waterfront restaurant The Poyer's.

A chef for over three decades, Mr Poyer wanted to combine his European background with under-utilised local produce to create something unique.

"At the moment, people are craving new experiences," Mr Poyer said. "People can't travel but food can let you travel; it gives you that sensory experience."

ON THE MENU: The Poyers restaurant at Lemon Tree Passage with a seafood dish with a difference. Picture: Supplied

ON THE MENU: The Poyers restaurant at Lemon Tree Passage with a seafood dish with a difference. Picture: Supplied

Mr Finn and Mr Poyer quickly discovered that they shared a similar philosophy towards experimenting with new tastes and a think-outside-the-square attitude.

"I'm just a chef and Greg's just a diver, but together we have a passion for what we do. Sharing our skills in this way makes perfect sense," Mr Poyer said.

Creating dishes from ingredients many diners hadn't had the opportunity to taste before was an exciting prospect and a way to combine Poyer's innovative style with sustainable hand-harvested fishing practices.

"To date the feedback has been fantastic. We've been serving abalone schnitzels and turban shell risotto and in summer we'll add sea urchin. Recently, a gentleman came in for lunch and the next day he returned with his whole family so they could taste abalone."

For Mr Finn, having the support of a world-class chef and being able to deliver produce straight from the sea to the restaurant is incredibly rewarding.

"I'm honored that someone with Ludovic's background is showcasing alternatives to the stock-standard seafood options and taking local produce to the next level," he said.

"Why should people have to go to Sydney or Melbourne to try something like abalone? Promoting local fish species should be the first option when catering to the expectations of those visiting or living in coastal regions."