Culture, cooking a perfect blend in camp for youth
Indigenous students from all corners of WA have come to Albany this week to take part in a culinary camp, exchange their cultures on country and learn all about local bush tucker.
Kinjarling Djinda Ngardak — which translates to “Albany comes alive under the stars” in Noongar language — is an initiative created by not-for-profit organisation Prepare Produce Provide, which supports the future of indigenous youth through food.
The students have been receiving training and mentorship from some of WA’s top chefs including Fervor’s Paul Iskov, Melissa Palinkas, Anna Gare, David Gilmour and indigenous chef Reece Lardi during a week-long culinary camp.
Throughout this week, students also participated in cultural activities with Menang elders and leaders, including art classes, bush walks, storytelling and spending time on country to identify and forage local bush foods.
According to Menang Noongar man Larry Blight, who was mentoring the group on foraging on Tuesday, the camp was about educating the students and raising awareness on the local bush tucker.
“A lot of people associate bush foods with central desert or Arnhem Land but not so much down here,” he said. “One of the things they’ll be using in their cooking from foraging is bloodroot, which is like a spicy bulb, and they’ll be working it into chocolate.
“We’ve also been getting some samphire, which is almost like a little sea asparagus, and I think they might be using it for a starter.”
Mr Blight said it was a special experience to exchange culture.
“I believe some of them have travelled days to get here and a few had never actually seen the ocean,” he said.
This year’s program included 20 students, some had travelled from as far as the Kimberley, Kununurra, Geraldton, and Kalgoorlie.
Ngaanyatjarra Lands School teacher Nicky Byrne, who came with four students, said the experience was invaluable.
“The whole concept of bringing indigenous students on a culinary, cultural, tourism journey is absolutely amazing, and they can take what they learned back to their communities,” she said.
Year 12 student Sonya West said she cooked a lot at home and had enjoyed the program.
“I love Albany and the beaches here are really beautiful,” she said.
“I’m really excited to cook for everyone on Saturday.”
Iskov said it was an honour and a privilege to work with the Kinjarling Djinda Ngardak students.
“They are the next generation of chefs who can change the way we think about food and how to care for the land we live on — this is incredibly important at this point in time, now more than ever,” he said. “They will be the ones that are leading these important changes and it is great to cook with such enthusiastic kids.”
The camp will culminate in students co-creating and preparing a high-end gala dinner for 100 guests at the Albany Entertainment Centre on Saturday.
The event will showcase the knowledge, skill and expertise of the chefs and students, and include an entertainment program featuring indigenous art, music, dance and fashion.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails