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Australia’s newest TV chef is showcasing Indigenous wild Bushfoods.


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A new cooking show starts this week, bringing the first Australian Indigenous hatted chef, Clayton Donovan, to our free-to-air screens. Donovan explores the diverse landscape and Indigenous cultures of the north coast of NSW where he grew up, gathering food from its source or meeting the people who produce it. With an intense love and passion for Australia's unique and wild environment, we recently spoke to this foodie about the importance of simple, fresh and local food.

Can you tell us about one of your fondest, earliest memories of food?

My mum cooked a lot. She loved recipe books and reproduced recipes to make them her own. She cooked amazing Mexican food! Also going bush walking with mum and my aunty and gathering bushfoods to cook with was probably my highlight.

How would you describe your ‘food philosophy’ in a few sentences?

Simple, fresh and local. Injecting great Australian native spices in dishes and not being afraid to experiment with different foods and ingredients of all cultures and introducing it into cuisine.

Your new cooking show, Wild Kitchen, highlights the experience of collecting food at it’s source. Why do you think is so important?

It’s placing our Bushfoods on a pedestal, which is where I believe they should be placed. It's important for me to share this knowledge with fellow Australians; to teach them and show them what these ingredients are and how easy they are to cook with.

Why are sustainable farming practices so important to support?

Without complication being able to use whats on my back doorstep in cooking is what makes me tick. Having a relationship with local farmers and growers and understanding there processes is my approach. The education behind this obviously benefits these guys to keep them alive. I'm much more aware about sustainability and using whats in my own backyard.

How would you encourage city-dwellers to get involved in sourcing and producing more sustainable food sources?

I'd say experience it first hand. Get out and visit a farm or a farmers market. People tell me when they meet farmers and here there story, they tend to be inspired to spend more time sourcing sustainable foods.

What ingredient can’t you live without, and why?

Can I say two?! At the moment I’m loving Quandongs and Apple Berrys. Apple Berries have a unique flavor, quince/kiwi like flavor would be the closest way to describe them. I made a simple dressing last week using them.

Do you have a favourite dish/ingredient from the first few episodes that you’d love viewers to try making/using at home?

An early episode features Numbucca Oysters with Fingerlime, avocado mouse and carrot foam. It’s an easy one to put together at home. [Check it out here.]

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Probably that many Australians aren’t aware the medicinal benefits that many Bushfoods have. And to be honest it’s something I'm always learning more about myself.

In Clayton Donovan's short 8-minute taster series, he creates recipes such as spanner crab with ‘roo’sciutto and cauli puree, Asian-inspired water buffalo salad with davidson plum and a native flower infused Panna Cotta with wild raspberries and bush honey. The show screens throughout June and July in between River Cottage and Gardening Australia, and starts Saturday 7 June, 2014, on ABC1 at 5:50pm.