FLASHBACK: Cellar door assistant Natalie Prenol, from Kingaroy, encourages Wondai’s Michaela Graaf before her knock-down win in last year

September 4, 2016

The pressure is starting to mount on reigning champion Michaela Graaf … but she promises to stay calm and collected when she defends her crown at Moffatdale Ridge this Saturday.

Last year Michaela won the pasta eating competition at the Ridge’s first-ever Italian Festival, mowing down eleven other contestants by demolishing a plate of spaghetti bolognese in record time.

Michaela said her decision to enter the event was really a last minute thing.

“I’d never entered any eating competition before, and I was tossing up whether to go in it or not,” she said.

“But when they were lining up they were a couple of contestants short, so I thought: why not?”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Michaela said winning the pasta eating competition had changed her life in several ways.

“I was helping out with Murgon Rotary at last year’s festival,” Michaela said.

“But I’ve been helping out at Moffatdale Ridge for a few months now, so on Saturday I’ll be defending the title for (Moffatdale Ridge owners) Jason and Sue (Kinsella).

“And now Jason tells everyone at the cellar door about me winning the pasta eating competition, so I guess there’s a bit of performance pressure there.”

Is she on any special training regime to prepare for Saturday’s contest?

“No, I’m actually on a diet at the moment,” Michaela said.

“But I think I can let it go for just one day on Saturday … and I’m pretty sure I’ll have an appetite!”

How about mental discipline?

“I’m really trying not to think about it too much,” Michaela said.

“I don’t want to peak too soon.”

Does she know if she’ll be facing bolognese again?

“Sue hasn’t given me any tips about what sort of pasta she’ll be making this year, so I guess I’ll find out when everybody else does.

“I’ve pretty confident with spaghetti. But how I might go with other types of pasta is anybody’s guess.”

Moffatdale Ridge’s second Italian Festival will be held at the winery’s Barambah Road property from 9:30am to around sunset on Saturday, September 10.

The one-day festival will feature Italian foods, Italian beers, Moffatdale Ridge’s Italian-inspired wines, bocce, a salami wheel and an Italian cooking demonstration by Roberta from The Saucy Fork.

Entertainment will be provided by the Fortunato Isgro band, along with sax from Tom McKenzie and jazz and blues from Soul Good, a 12 piece band, and opera numbers by Queensland opera sensation Meg Kiddle.

There’ll also be a dance floor and prizes for the best traditional Italian dress, and guests who book online can go into the draw to win a weekend for two at Oceans Resort and Spa in Hervey Bay.

Admission is $10 and a courtesy coach will be running from Nanango through Kingaroy, Tingoora, Wondai, Murgon, Yallakool and Barambah Bush Caravan Park.

However, guests will need to pre-purchase their tickets and book with Moffatdale Ridge to be certain of a seat on the buses.

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