April 1st 2008
Hot and Tasty and $20,000 richer
"Ecstatic! Absolutely ecstatic!" is how Nelly Bay's, Fat Possums Cafe owner, Nial Bowden described the news he received late yesterday that he and part-time waiter and cook at the cafe, Mark Hannan, had won $20,000 as first prize in the Melbourne-based "Cafe of Song" competition.
According to a spokesperson for Cafe of Song, Mr George Gambino, "That the inaugural prize has gone to a Queensland cafe and, one based on Magnetic Island, is a huge surprise."
The national prize was established earlier this year to reward cafes, take-aways and fast-food outlets for playing a greater role in the cultural life of communities by encouraging singing at the work place. Over 250 cafes and eateries from around Australia entered the competition but only five were from Queensland.
"Lygon and other streets in Melbourne have developed a fine cafe culture where music and comedy is a vital focus of the life of the street and, with a generous bequest from the estate of Melbourne radio identity, Stan Zemaniac, the Cafe of Song committee wanted to see that sense of culture in the community grow further afield into other states and other food-based retail," said Mr Gambino.
Calling themselves Hot and Tasty, a name, incidentally, inspired by the label on the Cafe's pie warmer, Nial and Mark won the title after sending off a CD they had video recorded over Christmas in which they perfomed a two-part harmony version of the humourous pop classic, "Louis Louis Louis".
The video was shot in the cafe and shows a very appreciative audience enjoying the singing burger flippers and their antics in action - moving in rhythm as they sing and work. Nial told Magnetic Times, "We have kept the project pretty much a secret until now as we really weren't expecting to be among the place getters.
"I'm so amazed I'm going to have to sit down and have a very long, cold, milkshake," said Mark Hannan, laughing, who also fronts Magnetic Island-based reggae outfit, "The Rocky Bay Band".
Nial who is better known as a bass player, also with the Rocky Bay Band and other bands on Magnetic, was keen that other Island cafes and eateries take up singing in the workplace too. "It's incredible how much more enjoyable the day is with a couple of songs being sung. It's where the blues began as a chanted song in the cotton fields of the US south so there is a great tradition of work and singing and we find that customers respond very well to the experience. It makes for a very happy workplace," he said.
The pair are to fly to Melbourne to receive the prize in May but when Magnetic Times spoke to Nial he was still having trouble coming to grips with the enormity of the duo's achievement. "If I didn't know better I'd think it was an elaborate April fool's joke," he said.
Perhaps it is.
Story and photo: George Hirst
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