Indigenous ingredients in the spotlight at Beef2024

Published 01 May 2024

Media Release

Australia’s most celebrated indigenous chef will bring the flavours of the outback to Rockhampton as part of the Beef2024 Celebrity Chef Program.

Mark Olive, aka ‘The Black Olive’, has garnered global acclaim for his unique approach to combining traditional Australian ingredients with contemporary lifestyle cooking, showcased on his own television series The Outback Café as well as a host of other shows including On Country Kitchen and The Chef’s Line. In 2011, he delivered an Indigenous cooking demonstration to more than 300 audience members as part of Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure.

Diners at the Beef2024 Celebrity Chef Restaurant will be treated to a similar experience on Friday, 10 May, enjoying a three-course lunch curated by Mark as he weaves together native Australian flavours with succulent cuts of beef.

The charismatic chef said the menu will reflect his rustic, homely cooking style.

“I use a lot of bush tucker, and it’s an exciting challenge to match all the Indigenous herbs with the unique flavours of different cuts of beef,” he said.

“First course will be a beef skewer with bush tomato relish. The bush tomato, also known by its indigenous name ‘akudjura’, has a beautiful smoky flavour which is very different to the kind of tomato-based sauces most people are used to.

“That will be followed by my Outback Beef Salad. It’s a simple salad but the hero is the wattleseed lemon aspen and honey vinaigrette, and it will be seasoned with things like saltbush, pepperleaf and green wattleseed – which has somewhat of a satay-like flavour.

“For course three we’re doing a rib roast with pepperberry sauce made from the mountain pepper which originates from Tasmania but now grows all over the country. That will go with native warrigal greens and roasted sweet potatoes.”

Mark said he hopes diners leave his lunch with a sense of pride in the unique flavours from our own backyard.

“From a culinary perspective, we’ve embraced every other country’s culture except our own,” he said.

“We have native ingredients in this country which should be the backbone of our national cuisine. Things like lemon myrtle and wattleseed have been out there for decades, but we need to really embrace them and learn how to use them properly.

“It’s a bit like painting where you mix and match different colours to achieve a certain feel. Once you’re comfortable combining flavours together it opens up a whole new world for your palate.

“I truly believe we should all have these native ingredients in our cupboards alongside Vegemite.”

Mark’s demonstration is presented by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), which, through its ‘Activating Indigenous Estate’ program, ensures First Nations people design and benefit from research into production markets on their lands.

CRCNA Chief Executive Strategy and Engagement, Anthony Curro, said the lunch with Mark Olive is a great opportunity to shine a light on the unique operating environment of tropical beef production across Australia’s north.

“Producers battle with supply chain and logistic challenges, severe climatic events from cyclones, flooding, drought and bush fires through to feral animal management, with many based in remote and very remote regions,” Mr Curro said.

“Beef2024 will showcase the Northern Australia cattle industry on a global stage, shining a spotlight on the dedicated, innovative and inspiring producers who contribute to the sustainable development of Northern Australia, including the important role First Nations producers play in the industry through environmental and cultural knowledge.

“The event is also an important collaborative and knowledge sharing event which is critical as we move to more sustainable, climate resilient and nature positive development for production systems.”

Mark is one of a slew of iconic culinary maestros taking centre stage at the Beef2024 Celebrity Chef Restaurant throughout the week, including John Torode MBE, Matt Golinski, and Beef2018 crowd favourite, Iron Chef Sakai.

“It’s my first time at Beef, and I’m super excited to be involved in such an iconic event and catch up with some of the other amazing chefs,” Mark said.

“Australian beef is the best in the world. We’ve always been way ahead of what other countries are doing, in our farming practices and the cuts of beef we produce.

“I just love the flavours of different cuts, especially sirloin, scotch fillet and eye fillet, which is very lean but also packed with flavour. It’s all about the flavour.”

For more information on the Celebrity Chef Program, visit the Beef Australia website.


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