By HARRY CLARKE
THE beef had spent 18 hours in the smoker, and was melting in mouths all along Heeney Street by the time it was drizzled with a decadent, homemade cheese sauce and served up at Chinchilla’s annual One Long Table celebration.
Slow cooked pork and beef is “one of the things we do best,” said Rebbekkah Walker from the Great Western restaurant, which was one of dozens of local business and cultural groups running food stalls at the event.
“It was a big job, but the effort is well worth it,” Ms Walker said.
“We put the rib fillet on at 4.30am on Friday and didn’t finish until midnight. You have to check the temperature every half hour to make sure nothing’s being over cooked or under cooked.”
“The meat is delicious and One Long Table is a great event. It’s great to see the community come together, and it’s a great showcase for businesses like ours.”
One Long Table table was first held in 2011, an initiative by the Chinchilla Community, Commerce and Industry group (CCCI) to welcome an influx of multicultural residents drawn to town by the resources industry.
It was an instant success and has since remained a favourite on the community social and cultural calendar.
As the name of the event suggests, ‘one long table’ is set up down Chinchilla’s main street for guests to sit down and enjoy the variety of cuisines and culinary treats on offer.
“We wanted to make sure we were welcoming all of the people from different cultures into our community,” said CCCI manager Robyn Haig.
“The event was planned by our chamber in response to business wanting their new employees to feel welcome in the community
“Everyone’s here, they’re having a great time, we’re all eating together. It’s a great unifier.”
Paella is one of those dishes most customers will have heard of, but perhaps fewer know the backstory.
Chilean nationals and local cleaning business owners, Ivan Erpel and son Jermaine (pictured), had the iconic cultural dish on offer at One Long Table.
“In the Paella we’ve got Spanish chorizo, chicken, onions, tomatoes, peas, corn, carrots, saffron and rice,” Ivan Erpal.
“It’s from Spain and it’s very popular all across South America. I got taught by my dad Enrique how to cook it.
“In Spain, all the women would cook for their men and for their family all week. Then on Sunday the men of the house would cook for the women. Paella means “‘for her.'”
It wasn’t just through the food that cultures were celebrated at One Long Table. Entertainers from far and wide also added to the international festivities.
There were roving ‘Congo Bongo’ players , salsa dancers, can-can dancers, and Bollywood dancers among the lineup.
The local indiginous Wakka Wakka performers were a crowd favourite, and so was the group from Toowoomba whose passion was to re-enact Medieval battle.
“This event has been another great success,” CCCI manager Robyn Haig siad.
“It’s been very busy, which doesn’t surprise me. I think people are craving social outings because everything’s been very quiet.
“It’s been a really hard period for entertainers, so we’re really pleased to be able to provide them with this opportunity. Some of them have come from far away, and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.