Budding young chefs from Wilcannia have been whipped into shape at a food festival in Western Australia (WA) .
They are TAFE Western certificate III hospitality students, Colleen Wilson, Brandee Dennis, Rebecca Shillingsworth, Kayleen Broome, and Danielle, Lois and Grace Kinsela.
The seven students were kept busy at the Kambarang food festival, a “new-age exploration of Aboriginal bush foods and flavours, re-imagined using modern cooking technique”.
The girls took part in Kambarang at the invitation of Aboriginal celebrity chef Mark Olive, better known as The Black Olive, who saw them at work in the kitchen at the Bangamalanha Conference in Dubbo this year.
Funding from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and TAFE Western helped get the girls across Australia for an event they have called “remarkable and once-in-a-lifetime learning experience”.
TAFE Western tourism and hospitality teacher Lee Cecchin said the I Barka Nhuunghus group, which means I River Women, “thoroughly enjoyed the experience”.
“The students were able to work alongside celebrity chef Mark The Black Olive, Josh Whiteland from Koomal Dreaming and an amazing network of support chefs and teachers who were on hand to guide and nurture them,” she said.
“They were very enthusiastic in their approach to learning new things and were always willing to get in there and have a go.”
Ms Cecchin said she saw the students’ interest in food grow. “Hopefully now they can take what they have learnt back into their local community and share this amazing experience,” she said.
The girls’ week in WA included masterclasses on making pasta and cheese, and bread in a woodfire oven, along with optimum use of chocolate, dairy and ice cream. They also visited an abalone site.
They were schooled in everything from workplace health and safety, using Indigenous foods and setting table places and chairs, to preparing food and serving it. The highlights of the excursion for the students included working with the Black Olive and foraging for pipis and bush foods.