NICI

Cork showcase for Indigenous chefs

Indigenous Australian chefs have shown off their culinary skills at Cork’s 2019 food festival.

Hundreds of attendees at A Taste of West Cork food festival relished the opportunity to sample Australian cuisine with a focus on native ingredients, from kangaroo and kingfish to Kakadu plum and wild hibiscus.

The Australian Ambassador to Ireland Richard Andrews selected four chefs from the National Indigenous Culinary Institute, Joshua Moore, David Gray and Sam and Luke Bourke, for the opportunity.

The fine dining school has offered Kunja and Barkindji man Mr Moore a career turnaround.

“Before this I was busking on the street, just surviving.

“Now, I am in the kitchen learning new skills.”

Luke Bourke was one of four Indigenous chefs selected to perform cooking demonstrations for festival-goers.

Luke Bourke was one of four Indigenous chefs selected to perform cooking demonstrations for festival-goers.

The chefs each undertake apprenticeships as part of their culinary study program, gaining experience in exclusive host restaurants including Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar and Grill and Sydney waterfront institution Catalina.

Trainees have had the chance to prepare meals for Australian prime ministers and the inimitable British restauranteur Marco Pierre White, but NICI director Rod Harys said introducing Australia’s flavours to the people of Ireland “was a fantastic highlight”.

“Along with the experiences of seeing a beautiful country, they were able to get outside of their comfort zone, adapt to new surroundings and…educate people on their Indigenous culture.”

A Taste of West Cork chairperson Hellen Collins agreed that the chefs were a “credit” to their mentors, the NICI and their country.

“Everybody in West Cork wanted to meet them…the guys worked so hard but they did manage to get a little time on the sea fishing for the foraging dinner.”

Sam Bourke, Luke Bourke, Joshua Moore and David Gray catered for guests at a dinner held in a Cork church.

Sam Bourke, Luke Bourke, Joshua Moore and David Gray catered for guests at a dinner held in a Cork church.

Ms Collins said festival-goers raved about the chefs’ use of bush tucker spices and ingredients such as finger lime pearls, described by connoisseurs as the caviar of the citrus world.

The annual two-week Cork affair sees more than 250 events including banquets and food markets take place in 50 towns and villages.

The Australian chefs’ inclusion was part of a long-term plan to increase NICI representation on the world stage.