SHARING HIS BEST: Australia's Indigenous chef Clayton Donovan.
SHARING HIS BEST: Australia's Indigenous chef Clayton Donovan.

Sample star quality native nosh

CLAYTON Donovan grew up on Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung land on the mid north coast of New South Wales and started learning about native produce as a four year old when he was out walking with his Aunties and grandmothers, taking what they found in the bush or along the coastline and cooking it up at their homes.

This love of food saw Clayton, Australia's Indigenous hatted chef launch his own TV series recently called Wild Kitchen on ABC TV.

It is this love of native food culture the Yamba Museum want to showcase during its Vision4Change Aboriginal Arts and Culture exhibition as Clayton takes centre stage at the museum next Saturday.

Curator for the exhibition Debrah Novak said it was a coup to have Clayton accept the invitation to do a pop up café at Yamba.

"We are really excited Clayton Donovan, one of Australia's fabulous foodies is bringing and sharing his knowledge of native cuisine with us as, it is such a huge Australian and global trend at the moment," she said.

As a young man Donovan worked in kitchens washing dishes in Nambucca Heads while performing in a band, skating and surfing.

Clayton obtained his High School Certificate, and began studying for a law degree.

He soon realised this was not his preferred career and began a commercial cooking course in Sydney.

Clayton started an apprenticeship on board a private catamaran moored in Sydney Harbour preparing food for stars such as The Eurythmics and the LA Lakers.

He began to develop his own style of cooking, but wanted to learn more about using native ingredients in a restaurant environment.

Knowing that head chef Kenneth Leung was integrating ingredients such as wattle seed, rosella and myrtles into Asian and European inspired dishes.

With his apprenticeship complete, Clayton moved to England where he took sous chef and head chef positions in restaurants such as Fowey Hall and Boscundle Manor.

In 2008 Clayton returned to Nambucca Heads to open Jaaning tree, combining international experience with his understanding of Australian native foods to produce a unique and contemporary cuisine with an Indigenous twist.

Clayton continues to source ingredients from the bush, foraging to introduce new and exciting flavours to his menus and received a chef's hat from the Australian Good Food Guide in 2011.

The Yamba community garden has also come on board as an event partner.

The now well-established Yamba community garden is a perfect fit for this event Ms Novak said.

"They already grow amazing organic produce with one of their plant beds dedicated solely to Indigenous food," she said.

"The group have also had a visit by Yaegl Elder Uncle Ron Heron who spoke about the importance of using native tucker in your diet".

Yamba Community Garden liaison for this event Eric Brown is a foundation member of the community garden and is himself a retired former chef and medicinal herb grower.

The pop up wild kitchen with Clayton Donovan is on Saturday, July 26 at Yamba Museum from 11-2pm.

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