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Indigenous Ingredients Are Making Its Way Into Restaurants Menus


Indigenous Ingredients Are Making Its Way Into Restaurants Menus

Expensive to purchase, hard to source, challenging to farm on a large scale, and largely unfamiliar to the Australian palate, indigenous ingredients have faced an uphill battle for mainstream appreciation.

But a new generation of chefs is reigniting the interest in native food, and a modern, sophisticated use of the produce could fuel a growth in this niche supply industry.

Jed Gerrard, executive chef at Perth's Wildflower restaurant, atop Como The Treasury hotel, not only uses locally sourced ingredients, his cooking revolves around the six seasons of the indigenous Noongar calendar.

"We follow the local area Aboriginal weather calendar," Gerrard says. "We are currently in the Djeran season, which typically has cooler nights, light breezes and the presence of dew on plants in the early mornings."

Wildflower restaurant at the Como The Treasury in Perth offers food sourced predominantly from Western Australia.

Wildflower restaurant at the Como The Treasury in Perth offers food sourced predominantly from Western Australia.supplied

Gerrard wanted to create a menu which was authentically West Australian, and with that bring on some logistical challenges. "I asked myself, is this realistic, are we going to be able to follow these seasons, are we going to have enough time to go foraging, do we have enough suppliers to sustain a busy restaurant that has 80 seats. We do 150 covers a day, you need a lot of native produce."

But with a small, focused menu, weekly foraging sessions and painstaking cultivation of local suppliers, Gerrard is sticking to his original intent.

"I can confidently say that 95 per cent of everything we use comes from Western Australia. The other 5 per cent would be Australia generally, that's just a couple of cheeses and vinegars. All the proteins and vegetables and natives are from Western Australia."

Wildflower is in this year's The Australian Financial Review's Australia's Top 500 Restaurants list, the third annual awards where chefs and restaurateurs from 500 venues across the nation vote for their favourite dining experiences, with the shortlist of 100 announced on June 19.

Matt Germanchis, (Article Image) chef and owner of Captain Moonlite at Anglesea, Victoria, says thanks to these chefs, there is now good momentum. "The Bens and the Dans of the world are putting an intelligent accent to some indigenous products," Germanchis says. "Young chefs really look up to people like that, so we all get a better understanding and appreciation of what native foods are.

"We're always going to have a bit of kitsch around here and there, but we're moving forward, without a doubt."


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