Humble sweet potato celebrated with feastival

Musician Ruby Mills, The Windmill Cafe owner Joey Caruana with Sweet Potatoes Australia general manager Claire Maslen are excited for this new event.

By Angela Norval

Using a fun play on words, the Sweet Potato Feastival is set to be just that; quite a delicious feast as The Windmill Bargara celebrates one of the region’s best-known vegetables.

It will be held as part of the Taste Bundaberg Festival, on Monday 14 June from 6pm.

“When the opportunity came up to co-host an event at the Windmill Café in Bargara with Joey Caruana, we thought it would be the perfect way to bring people together and shine the light on how versatile our humble sweet potato really is,” Sweet Potatoes Australia general manager Claire Maslen said.

“Our team are really excited to be involved with organising the event and from what is already planned, we know it will be an enjoyable evening for all who attend.

“We’ve had a sneak peek at the menu, which features sweet potatoes in each of the three courses.

“We will also have music entertainment by the very talented local musician Ruby Mills.

“The open-air atmosphere at The Windmill decked out with twinkling lights will also help set the scene for the evening; we are really looking forward to sharing the night with our friends and family in the Bundaberg community.”

This event will not only be particularly delicious but also provide valuable information on the versatility of sweet potatoes in cooking, as there is a big consumer drive for wanting to know where the food they eat actually comes from, and making sure they are getting the freshest produce available.

“With the events of the past year, a lot of people are spending more time cooking at home, experimenting with new flavours, and incorporating healthier options into their meals,” Ms Maslen said.

“Given that around 80 per cent of Australia’s sweet potato supply is grown in the Bundaberg region, we like to think of Bundaberg as the sweet potato capital of Australia.”

Mr Caruana was excited to be working alongside Sweet Potatoes Australia for this event.

“Sweet Potatoes Australia are an amazing local family run farm producing some of Australia’s best produce; so it is an honour to work with these guy to showcase some of our regions world class produce,” he said.

“We have been involved with Taste Bundaberg Festival for a few years now and it’s something that we look forward to each year as a way of showing off our region’s fresh produce and how it can be used to create tasty dishes.

“It’s also an opportunity to work with the local farms that supply us with their produce.

“Using the freshest produce from Sweet Potatoes Australia and local farms, the night will feature a feast of sweet potatoes over a three-course dining experience.”

Ms Mills said it was an honour to come home and be involved in local projects. She said everything she had achieved and continued to strive for received local support.

“I will never take that for granted as this is where it all started for me,” she said.

“I am really excited to be doing an acoustic set at the Sweet Potato Feastival, especially as I always really enjoy working with my friend, and guitarist Dan Hardy.

“We have a beautiful, easy-listening set at the moment and have been experimenting with some really smooth jazz covers.

“I really resonate with those soulful sounds and of course, incorporating a little blues in there.”

The past 12 months has been an opportunity for Ms Mills to spend some time on the property where she grew up and work on writing songs, playing music and training her voice.

“With gigs reopening now, I can’t wait to get my sound back out there,” she said.

“Being back in Bundaberg has been an amazing reset for me; to return home to a loving family and a supportive community has not only encouraged me to continue doing what I love, but has also motivated me to be better.

“I find so many locals are interested in what I am up to now and always taking the opportunity to come and see me sing.

“I feel so proud to do what I do, with many more songs to write and performances ahead of me, I look forward to seeing everyone at the Feastival.”