Local flavours and jobs at forefront of Convention Centre cuisine

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen and Minister for Public Works and Procurement The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Public Works and Procurement Minister Mick de Brenni with Cairns Convention Centre Executive Chef Ben Boudaud

Fine-dining aficionados will be supporting local jobs as they savour sumptuous delights at the new-look Cairns Convention Centre when conference and convention activity recommences.

Minister for Public Works Mick de Brenni said the centre – currently undergoing a $176 million refurbishment and expansion – takes great pride in supporting local jobs and businesses.

“Excitement is really starting to build as we count down to practical completion of refurbishment works on 31 March and the resumption of events just a few weeks later,” said Mr de Brenni.

“However, the re-opening will be just a first taste of the wide-ranging benefits of a bigger and better Convention Centre in Cairns.

“Expansion works will continue to support up to 570 construction jobs right through until mid-2022, and hundreds more local workers and businesses will be supported as the facility continues to source its supplies and services locally into the future.”

The Palaszczuk Government’s Buy Queensland procurement policy requires government-owned facilities such as the Cairns Convention Centre to source locally wherever possible.

Executive Chef Ben Boudaud has been working closely with local farmers and producers as he puts the finishing touches to the 2021 menu.

“We are very fortunate here in Cairns to have an abundance of local and unique produce to serve to our delegates and the feedback we get from our clients is always very positive,” he said.

“The new menu will capture all the fresh and full flavours of the tropics and it will certainly ensure we continue to have visitors’ tastebuds tingling.

“The seafood, especially, will be sumptuous and is sourced from local supplier ISP Fish Market, which is renowned for employing local workers and supporting local fishing businesses.”

ISP Fish Market General Manager Shawn McAtamney said working with commercial operators in the Northern Australian fisheries is an important part of the ISP philosophy, which has been an economic staple of the Far North since 1984.

“Our seafood comes directly from fisheries that endorse world-best practice in fisheries management and we can offer full traceability back to origin,” he said.

“We not only support fishing vessels but also micro-enterprises in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities like Darnley Island, where we source products like Spanish mackerel, coral trout, red emperor and tropical rock lobster, some of which feature on upcoming menus at the Convention Centre.”

Cairns Convention Centre general manager Janet Hamilton says the Centre prides itself on implementing the Government’s procurement policy, which ensures the facility’s positive impacts extend far beyond the local tourism sector.

“The Centre not only brings delegates to the region who stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and enjoy all our attractions, we also love to showcase the fresh and full flavours the Tropical North has to offer in the field of fine dining,” she said.

“Our fish is 100 per cent locally sourced, and all our fresh chicken comes from Mareeba.

“We source the vast majority of our beef from the Tableland Meat Company or the wider Queensland area, as well as our Galloland cheese from Malanda and Mungalli Creek cheese from Millaa Millaa.

“Our coffee is from Skybury & Jacques in Mareeba, we offer Daintree Chocolate and we are now working with Nerada Tea to develop a signature convention centre blend.

“Sourcing our menu ingredients locally means we are also support local farmers, providing additional jobs and money back into the local economy.”

Speaker of the Queensland Parliament and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said it doesn’t get much better than a local catch.

“When visitors come to the new Convention Centre, they will really get an authentic taste of the Far North,” Mr Pitt said.

“In doing so, we are supporting all those local fisheries who are still feeling the impacts of the pandemic.

“Supporting local jobs and the economy has never tasted so good.”

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