Mark Olive, aka ‘The Black Olive’, is Australia’s most celebrated indigenous chef.
Over the past 30 years, Mark has become a well-known Australian icon with his charismatic style and creative approach to food. Mark’s passion for fusing native food and culture with contemporary lifestyle cooking has led to an international profile specialising in gourmet Australian Indigenous Cuisine. He created and starred in his own television series “The Outback Café” which can still be seen internationally, as well as a host on SBS “A Chef’s Line”, “On Country Kitchen”, “Good Cooks” and various other cooking, lifestyle and travel shows nationally and globally. Recently, Mark has appeared on “The Celebrity Apprentice”, “The Cook Up with Adm Liaw” and “Big Mob Brekky”.
As a Bundjalung Man, Mark’s family originated from the Northern Rivers region in NSW. Born in Wollongong, on Australia’s south coast, he became interested in cooking as a child, watching his mother and aunts prepare meals. It fascinated him. He trained under a European chef and has worked in a number of kitchens around the globe.
Well known for his unexpected way, Mark’s unique style and passion for cooking with a variety of ingredients, some found in our own back yard, and combining both protein and plant foods is a desired brand. This paired with his charismatic nature and no fuss narration has held him in high demand. Cooking/Demonstrating regularly for clients such as Tourism Australia, large corporates, along with public and cultural events around the country and the world. As part of Oprah’s Ultimate Audience, her lucky guests were treated to a cultural experience of indigenous food, art and storytelling during Mark’s infamous cooking demonstration. Since then, Mark has entertained a host of dignitaries and varied audiences around the world bringing his signature combinations of contemporary outback flavours to every occasion. He is in demand on film sets as a special treat to visiting Talent and crew.
Mark studied at Victorian School of Arts which led to Directing his own short film titled “Passing Through”, exploring issues of identity, culture and family.
A Storyteller by nature, with a love of Music, The Back Olive’ is a wonderful teacher and leader to many not just within his cultural background. He is respected amongst the Indigenous community and has received invitations to Australia’s most remote regions. Passionate about the land and all that grows from it, he is an expert in Native Fauna and the food and medicinal purpose produced from them.
In 2022, Mark had the great honour of hosting a special evening of stories, song and food – called “Food and Music for the Soul” – with Archie Roach AM just before the music icon’s tragic passing.
In more recent months, Mark has hosted events and been involved in campaigns with the likes of Tourism Australia, Tourism Canada, Tourism New Zealand, Google, Thermomix, San Remo, The Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NSW Department of Education, University of Southern Queensland and Northern Rivers Performing Arts. Mark also regularly cooks and hosts events for Aboriginal owned and operated organisations across the country. In 2019 Mark collaborated with Peters for their Connoisseur Gourmet range of Ice creams, proving exceptional sales and rave reviews. He is also an ambassador for The Aquaculture Stewardship Council, an organisation setting the world’s best standards for responsible seafood farming.
In January this year, Mark joined fellow celebrity chefs Matt Moran and Darren Purchese – along with famed food writers Terry Durack and Jill Dupleix – for the “Great Australian Culinary Voyage”, a spectacular five-night sailing experience aboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. Following the enormous success of the inaugural culinary cruise, Mark will be back onboard the spectacular ship to do it all again in January 2024.
Speaking of ships, in June this year Mark hosted an unforgettable and exclusive five-course ‘Chefs of the Harbour’ degustation dinner onboard Sydney’s newest luxury superyacht ‘The Jackson’, celebrating First Nations cuisine and culture as part of the city’s 2023 Vivid lineup.
While in Melbourne, fans of The Black Olive are able to experience his culinary creations when they visit the eagerly anticipated ‘Connections’ Indigenous art show at THE LUME. Mark was honoured to have been asked to create an exclusive menu offering for guests to enjoy as they take in the immersive cultural experience at the Melbourne Convention Centre.
Mark has just returned from Hong Kong with Austrade to promote Indigenous Foods to Hong Kongers Media and Government bodies with great success. We look forward to our return in October 2024 for the “Festival of Australia”
The greatest achievement however has been the launch of his new restaurant ‘Midden by Mark Olive’ at the Sydney Opera House and during the 50th Birthday year. A celebration of “What is the city but the People” will have Mark join other invited guests who shape our City, walk the Opera House, Oct 1.
Mark is currently putting the final touches his long-awaited new cookbook due out next year.
In his spare time, Mark loves spending time working in his hometown of Wollongong offering Indigenous food experiences at his popular boutique café “The Farm Kiosk” at Killalea State Park on Dharawal Country.