Greeted with a sign that says “Gobble Til You Wobble”, the tone is quickly set for what the Mollydookers Café & Bar annual Thanksgiving Dinner celebration is about – food in abundance.
It seems an odd celebration to have in the small highway town of Apple Tree Creek, 45km south of Bundaberg, but for the Canadian-Australian fusion café, the event is non-negotiable.
Mollydookers is the blending of the food and cultures of owners Mike and Alana Vandenbrink, a Canadian expat and his Childers-local wife.
With a regular trade of Canadians stopping in for traditional fare such as authentic Ceasars (a Bloody Mary of sorts made with tomato and clam juice) and Poutine (chips with Canadian gravy and cheese curd), the couple is often asked if they host Canadian celebrations.
Spurned out of homesickness felt at Thanksgiving time, celebrated in Canada on the second Monday of October, after their first year together in Australia, the restaurateurs decided to hold their own intimate dinner for 50.
And it is not a restaurant served meal – it is a unique dining experience, with communal tables dotted with bottles of wine, and communal food. Everything is brought out on share platters, traditionally a little past serving time, but everything in plentiful.
All the recipes from the home-made cranberry sauce and stuffing to the pumpkin and cherry pies are that of Momma Vandenbrink, and still lovingly made by Alana and the Mollydookers team. Five giant turkeys, ham, traditional mash and vegies round out what can only be described as a feast.
Mike makes a toast and explains what Thanksgiving is all about – celebrating harvest time, but also a celebration that is Christmas-like, without the priority or emphasis of gifts. It is about feeling thankful and celebrating good company.