|Maryanne's Story - Green Smoothie Paves the Way to George Benson's Green Room|
|Written by Maryanne McKay|
|Monday, 09 May 2011 07:13|
I entered a photo of my raw, vegan, nutritious, delicious green smoothie in 666 ABC Canberra’s Feast: Show us your Breakfast competition – and won! The prize: tickets to see George Benson live in concert at the Enlighten festival, and backstage admission to meet the great man too!
I was motivated to enter the competition equally by the chance of meeting George Benson and the opportunity to promote a vegan alternative to breakfasts that are so often reliant on animal exploitation – particularly dairy milk.
A recently awakened convert to veganism after over 25 years of being vegetarian, I’m passionate about sharing delicious, healthy and easy vegan recipes with friends. Kemi Nekvapil’s raw food workshop in October last year introduced me to the raw, vegan green smoothie; that’s been breakfast for me ever since and I have never felt healthier. I saw the competition as a great opportunity to share the breakfast idea and hopefully inspire a broader audience.
The ABC informed me that my entry had been shortlisted. But I didn’t know I’d won until Louise Maher announced it on air, as I was waiting excitedly and nervously on the phone line. I spent the rest of the week beside myself with excitement in anticipation of the concert.
I took my vegan friend, former ACT Vegetarian Society President and big George Benson fan, Robert Davy, and we started the night early with a tour of the wonderful Ballets Russes exhibition at the National Gallery, which was part of the festival experience included in the prize. We then meandered through the Sculpture Garden and over to the grassy outdoor amphitheatre at Commonwealth Place, overlooking the lake. We enjoyed a delicious home-made vegan picnic of spicy quinoa pilaf and polenta chocolate cake, while listening to the smooth tones of Afro Celt Sound System, a fantastic world music outfit from the UK who were touring Australia and playing at the WOMADelaide festival that weekend.
When George Benson graced the stage at 9.30 pm, I abandoned the picnic rug. Poised second from the front in the ‘dance zone’, watching such outstanding musicians on stage – headed by the great man of jazz and funk (and R&B and pop and ...) – was simply terrific. He rolled out his old hits and a few newies to a delighted crowd. Encore was none other than On Broadway, where George had swiftly changed from his suave white suit jacket to a crowd-pleasing bright pink jacket.
Meeting the man after the concert was truly an honour and a privilege – if all too fleeting. From behind his dark shades, George warmly shook our hands, signed our complimentary CDs (and my green smoothie recipe!), and chatted briefly about his whirlwind trip to Canberra, before his minders shuffled him off to dinner. We were so overwhelmed, we forgot to ask for a photo!
An unexpected highlight for both Robert and me was meeting George’s bass player, Stanley Banks (photographed with me).
Funky as all get up, an exquisite musician, and wonderfully charismatic on stage, Stanley was friendly and cheerful – and instantly taken with Robert’s ‘Herbivore’ T-shirt! As Stanley rummaged in his wallet for business cards, he excitedly chatted about being a raw food enthusiast, and, as he put it, ‘working on’ becoming vegetarian. A lovely connection and a fitting bookend to our fantastic night that came about from the humble yet healthy and life-enriching raw, vegan, nutritious, delicious green smoothie.