As guests arrived at Imbil’s Mary Valley State College for GourMay’s Gala Dinner Party on Saturday night 1 June 2024, the heavy flash of rain did not deter us from a venue transformed with fairy lights, candles and fragrant native plants.

I was greeted by GourMay Mary Valley coordinator Malcolm Oakley and transported into an evening of warmth and welcome to enjoy the best of local produce and an extensive menu that left guests raving.

Immersive experience

This was not just another dinner, but an immersive experience celebrating the richness and quality of local flavours and produce and talented local performers.

On arrival, guests were offered an assortment of canapés creatively showcasing local ingredients including avocado, fig and labneh bruschetta, mushroom and baby greens arancini and betel leaf with Miang roasted pork, housemade ginger and finger lime.

After tasting the Betel leaf canape, I may have headed to the kitchen and asked for a second taste of this perfect portion of pork.

The betel leaf canapes with pork and ginger were something special. PHOTO Cindy Vogels

As we enjoyed the canapes, we listened to covers crooned with the gentle charisma of Aspy Jones.

A selection of local wines and craft beers accompanied the delicious morsels, setting the tone for an evening celebrating community and the bounty of the Mary Valley.

The entrée selection was a testament to the chef’s dedication to seasonality and freshness.

Alternate delights arrived once we were seated in the adjoining dining space under a canopy of fairy lights.

These included Thom Kha soup with seasonal Asian greens, bamboo shoots, lemongrass, chilli macadamia and basil oil. It was tasty and fragrant with a touch of spice and the fresh bouquet of Asian greens and herbs elevated the soup perfectly.

Guests also enjoyed roasted pumpkin, goats’ cheese and dried tomato tortellini with macadamia granola and a baby greens emulsion.

Mains were amazing

The mains did not disappoint, with a choice of Moya Valley Poultry chicken, stuffed and crumbed caponata with rosella relish, tarragon cream sauce or the succulent slow cooked Nolan’s beef cheek, with root vegetable rösti, charred baby spring onion, green puree, persimmon and baby rocket.

The bread was Jeremiah’s Crust sourdough served with Gympie Farm butter

The dessert selection was spectacular in presentation and taste.

Delectable desserts

There were passion fruit cheesecake cups with honey and ginger crumble, dark chocolate torte, with local macadamias and mini roasted nut madeleines with local marmalade.

From the decadent dark chocolate torte, with a gooey molten centre, to the light and tangy cheesecake cups, there was something to satisfy every sweet tooth.

The cheese platter offered a selection of Kenilworth Dairies cheese with Noosa lavosh crackers and fresh fruit.

For this reviewer, the pièce de resistance was the cheese board.

Each cheese was paired with accompaniments including local honey, fig jam, and freshly baked bread: a fitting tribute to the rich agricultural heritage of the Mary Valley.

Entertainment by Favourite Kid provided a vibrant soundtrack to keep the energy high. Known for their eclectic mix of genres, the band played a range of tunes that had guests tapping their feet and later in the evening, dancing with abandon.

Local band Favourite Kid kept the energy high. PHOTO: Supplied by Sunshine Coast Foodie

Internationally renowned tap dance performers Street Feet, who have graced the stages of London, New York, Paris and Sydney kept the audience mesmerised and cheering throughout their impressive performance.

We enjoyed The Amanda Emblem Experiment with Chris Kath and her Song Writing Soup performing Song-Rocks and Water created in a local song writing session with collaborators during the GourMay festival month.

DJ PK bought the party tracks to complete the night.

Celebration of food and community

For me, what made this event truly special was the focus on local produce and the community of producers, cooks and chefs who make it.

Chefs Jake, Dan and Rebeccal PHOTO: supplied by Sunshine Coast Foodie

Each dish told a story of local farmers, artisans and chefs whose hard work and dedication brought these ingredients to life.

This farm-to-table event was a regional triumph, showcasing the best of produce and culinary expertise the Mary Valley has to offer.

The delicious menu, professional food service staff, paired with the enchanting ambiance and spirited entertainment, made for a night to remember.

Reviewer and fashion designer Cindy Vogels with Sunshine Coast Foodie Martin Duncan at the GourMay Mary Vallley Gala Dinner Party. PHOTO: Supplied by Sunshine Coast Foodie

 

IMAGE AT TOP OF STORY: Canapes with the Member for Gympie Tony Perrett and wife Michele. PHOTO supplied by Cindy Vogels

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