Sunshine Coast prawns, nuts and crabs make it

THE Sunshine Coast's best seafood was a stand-out on a menu carefully crafted to showcase the cream of the Queensland crop for the royal visitors.

But unlike most locals who were shelling and de-veining their own Mooloolaba prawns over the Easter weekend, the royal reception at the Convention Centre in Brisbane yesterday was a little more refined.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge feasted on a cold dish of Mooloolaba king prawns, Far North Queensland avocado, mango salsa on spinach wrap, followed by a hot meal of Mooloolaba spanner crab cakes and chilli lime mayo.

For dessert it was pineapple and macadamia nut crunch with rum and ginger jelly. The nuts are believed to also hail from the Coast.

To mark William and Kate's visit to Queensland, they were given the official gift from the people, courtesy of Maleny photographer Ben Messina.

The chosen framed photograph, River City, was taken from Wilson's Outlook in Brisbane.

"It's an amazing feeling. I don't think it would get much better than that. I'm very honoured to be chosen," Mr Messina said.

Mr Messina attended the royal reception in Brisbane yesterday, where the framed piece was presented to William and Kate.

"I have my gallery in Maleny. It's my signature gallery and we get a lot of tourists and locals come through," he said.

"Just the right person walked through and suggested it to the Premier as an ideal gift.

"I was contacted by the Premier's Department a few weeks earlier and asked to submit images, but not told what for.

"Then about two weeks ago, they said it's accepted and what it was for and who it was going to. It was pretty exciting.

"I had about a week to print the artwork and frame it all in-house."

Mr Messina said the Duchess of Cambridge was known to have a keen interest in photography and would appreciate the composition and technicalities behind the end result.

"On this particular occasion both the city and the river had an amazingly quiet and beautiful feel to it," he said.

"I used a 20-second exposure to flatten out the water and to add some movement to the clouds."

Mr Messina has been a professional photographer for 20 years, having printed his first black-and-white photo when he was just 10 years old.

A duplicate print of River City will be displayed in the Ben Messina Landscapes Gallery in Maleny today.

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