A Taste For Native Ingredients

30 April - By Jessie Spiby

Smoke billows from fire pits at Tasting Australia’s Town Square, assaulting senses and whetting appetites. Among the chefs occupying the space this week is Andrew Fielke of Tuckeroo Gourmet Foods, whose menu – part of the Charred program – reflects a modern take on Australian cuisine. A passionate pioneer of Australian native ingredients since the mid-1980s, Andrew celebrates the diverse array of spices, fresh produce and proteins indigenous to our land.

He says cooking on hot coals brings its own challenges when cooking for hungry hordes. “I’ve done fire cooking out bush on and off for a long time, but not so much catering with camp ovens, other than a few little gigs here and there, but not for the masses,” says Andrew. “I shaped my food, and the opening Tasting Australia brunch, focusing almost exclusively on Ngarrindjeri food. We used coastal wattle seed from down there, we used Coorong mullet and cockles, the beach succulents and Old Man Salt Bush. So yeah, it was all about the region and the food.”

South Australia has enthusiastically embraced native Australian produce, from consumers to chefs, butchers and retailers, which is reflected in several of the Town Square events at its Glasshouse Restaurant and Charred menus.

Reflecting on his own career and discovery of Australian native produce, Fielke says he became infatuated with these ingredients from about 1985, when he noted the lack of a true Australian cuisine. Fielke isn’t alone championing Australian native produce at Town Square; fellow Charred stall holder The Henry Austin feature them as well. Chefs Jock Zonfrillo, Paul Baker, Duncan Welgemoed and Lachlan Colwill will also present dishes inspired by Australian native produce at Glasshouse Restaurant menus.

“It’s just amazing to see how time changes,” says Andrew. “Now we’re moving through a fantastic, new, exciting stage where you see some great chefs doing some extraordinary things with the flavours. It’s great to see.”

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