Time Out Talks: The Politics of Bushfood Now
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The second in our Time Out Talks series sees Indigenous leaders and culinary experts discuss native Australian ingredients
When Noma came to Australia, the Scandis beat us at our own game: showing us what's possible with native Australian ingredients. Though native foods have been going in and out of style since the 1970s, right now it seems like the future of Australian food – from finger limes to abalone – has been growing in our own backyards, just waiting to be foraged. It's now easier to find lemon myrtle in a bar in Surry Hills than it is in the Byron Bay bushland.
Of course, Indigenous Australians were cultivating bushfood tens of thousands of years before René Redzepi came along. For many Aboriginal communities, bushfoods are totemic and essential – not a gourmet fad. While plenty of crops are protected by IP Rights, the laws around Aboriginal lore and knowledge are shaky at best.
Do we want the world to become obsessed with crocodile fat without really understanding it? How can we ensure those who gave us the ideas in the first place are compensated fairly? Is it even possible?
Our panel will discuss the best ways for Australians to honour First Nations people when it comes to consuming and cultivating native ingredients, and point out the problems with our current practices.
Before the talk, attendees are invited to take an after hours tour of Sixth Sense the exhibition currently showing at National Art School.
On the night, Indigiearth, an Indigenous owned and operated business who assisted Noma Australia in sourcing ingredients, will be providing refreshments. A tasting menu featuring bush tomato quiche, lemon myrtle arancini balls with bush tomato chutney, mini bush tucker burgers, wattle seed cheese cake and native ice tea is available for pre-purchase for $15.
Bruce Pascoe: Bruce Pascoe is an acclaimed author and editor, living in East Gippsland. His 2014 book Dark Emu, a history of Aboriginal agriculture, won the NSW Premier's Book of the Year in 2016 and his film, Black Chook, was shortlisted for an award at this year's MIFF. He is of Bunurong/Tasmanian and Yuin heritage and sits on the board of First Languages Australia. His latest novels include Mrs Whitlam, Fog a Dox, The Chainsaw File and Bloke.
Jody Orcher: Jody Orcher is an Ularai Barkandji woman from Brewarrina, in north west NSW, and the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s Aboriginal Education Coordinator. Jody is known across Sydney for her knowledge of cooking and bushfoods. Her interest in advocating for Aboriginal culture started as a child through her grandmother's teachings and was formalised as a student of Aboriginal Studies. Jody hopes that her work continues to support protection and promotion of cultural understanding and respect, today and for future generations.
Jade Santo: Jade Santo is in her second year as an apprentice chef at Fratelli Fresh. This year, she also took a staging placement at Noma Australia. Hailing from Far North Queensland, Jade is an Aboriginal woman of Kudjulla, Bindal and Mitakoodi heritage. Before getting behind the burners, Jade worked in programming, production and on the sports team at NITV. She's passionately interested in the use of native ingredients and Indigenous knowledge in a contemporary culinary context.
Lennox Hastie: Lennox Hastie spent five years cooking at Asador Etxebarri in the rugged mountains of the Basque Country, where the raison d'être is to cook food the traditional way: over fire. He brought these skills to Sydney when he opened Firedoor in Surry Hills in 2015 – a kitchen powered by fire, and a focus on beautiful produce celebrated for what it is. Passionate about indigenous Australian produce, Hastie loves to incorporate native ingredients in his almost daily-changing menu.
Tanya Denning-Orman (chair): Tanya Denning-Orman, a proud Birri and Guugu Yimidhirr woman from Central and North Queensland, has led NITV as Channel Manager since its merger with SBS in 2012. In her current position, Tanya directs the overall management and programming of NITV, which through diverse and innovative multiplatform content, including a unique news service, welcomes all Australians to celebrate Indigenous culture, voices and storytelling.
Freya Herring: As the restaurant and cafes editor of Time Out Sydney, Freya Herring has never met a food trend she couldn't digest. Her work gives her a rigorous insight into the machinations of the Sydney dining scene, and the way Australian cuisine sits within a global context. She's dined out professionally from Margaret River to Copenhagen and, as a former pastry chef, can spot the difference between a mille feuille and a snot block from 100 metres away.