Foodies dish up the region on a plate
THE Mackay region is quickly carving itself a foodie reputation, with more and more restaurants and cafes shaping their menus around locally-grown ingredients to showcase the quality produce on offer.
Most visitors will get their first glimpse of this when arriving at the Mackay Airport, with Ibis Mackay's TurBARlence Restaurant one of the many leading the charge with a tasty and creative menu.
General Manager Scott Grant said the restaurant used up to six different growers in the region.
"There is a huge focus on embracing local growers in our hotel group," Mr Grant said.
"Ashleigh Black, our head chef, spent time researching growers and increasing our local networks.
"Thought and creativity has lead us to where we are now."
Ibis Mackay's menu even states which items use local ingredients, and where they derive from, including Freckle Farm eggs, Holistic Pantry garlic and Retrospect Jam from Walkerston.
"One of the difficult things for our producers in the past was that they didn't have consistency in people buying their products," Mr Grant said.
"Now with the Greater Whitsunday Farmers Markets on each week, and more restaurants ordering local produce, it has become a little easier."
South of Mackay is the award-winning Sarina Sugar Shed and Australia's only miniature working sugar mill and distillery.
The Sarina Sugar Shed not only educates visitors about the region's important sugar industry through close-up, interactive and engaging tours, but also produces its own products on site.
The award-winning Sarina Sugar Shed Rum, and other liqueurs, are distilled and made on site using sugar from local cane farms.
A variety of other goodies including gourmet sauces, chutneys and ice-cream are also made using produce from local growers.
Sarina Sugar Shed Co-ordinator Glenys Mansfield said it was a real 'farm to plate' operation.
"The sugar we use in our rum and liqueurs is straight out of local farmer's paddocks, we use our own limes, Freckle Farm eggs in our homemade ice-cream, as well as local mangoes," Ms Mansfield said.
"The next product we will release is our special labelled Coconut Rum Liqueur, launched at the Coconut Festival in Sarina in August."
The Sarina Sugar Shed will also run 'Paddock to Plate Tours' in the near future, involving two local farms.
To see more of the Mackay region, head HERE.