Well-known local chefs and famous foodie to provide Australian gourmet lunch

John Newton brings a whole new understanding to dining Downunder in his latest book, “The Oldest Foods on Earth – A History of Australian Native Foods with Recipes”.

Two thirds of kangaroo meat produced in Australia goes overseas. While cattle farts continue to heat up our planet, only a tiny fraction of the Australian public eat kangaroo meat rather than beef. As we spend money on buying the latest exotic “super food” we ignore native equivalents such as the Kakadu plum. This native plum has been identified as the richest source of antioxidant compounds in nature with 900 times the Vitamin C level of blueberries. Do we see them in our supermarkets? No, but we can buy American grown blueberries! And why is a supermarket like Aldis selling kangaroo in Inverness, Scotland, but not Warrnambool?

These are some of the paradoxes which will be explored when John Newton talks to guests at a unique lunch being held at the Stump in Port Fairy on Saturday 10 September. The event has been organised by Ex Libris Port Fairy Festival of Words as part of the 2016 festival and tickets are selling fast.

While many Australian chefs have not embraced indigenous victuals, we are lucky enough to have two local chefs with a passion for native ingredients. Christopher Grace of Proudfoot’s Boathouse in Warrnambool and Ryan Sessions of Fen in Port Fairy are very excited to be producing some of the recipes in John’s latest book.

Chris said: “There are some great recipes in there by the likes of Peter Gilmore, Maggie Beer and Rene Redzepi. We haven’t decided which ones we’re doing yet. That will be a surprise, but I’m going to bring in some ingredients and talk about how I used them.”

Ryan Sessions’ passion for using indigenous foods started in 2009 from a desire to give his customers a true taste of Port Fairy and today he uses over 40 native ingredients from muntries to paperbark and Flinders Island wallabies. He has even started growing yam daisies, chocolate lilies and vanilla lilies himself. “Availability is our biggest challenge,” he said.

John Newton’s career has spanned academic work, journalism and novel writing. He has a particular interest in how plants have shaped civilisations around the world, and has also written a history of whaling in the Pacific and Southern oceans.

Festival Coordinator, Kirsty Hawkes, said: “We are very lucky to have John come here from Sydney. He is passionate about native food and wants to get away from the term, bushfood. I for one love roo meat, but a lot of Australians seem to be squeamish about it, a bit like Brits with venison.”

During his visit to the area John will be visiting Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, home to the Gunditjmara people for thousands of years and currently being considered for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ex Libris Port Fairy Festival of Words program and booking details are available online at www.exlibris.port.fairy.com and in local visitor information centres and shops.

Further information: contact Ex Libris coordinator Kirsty Hawkes on 0437 762 508 or exlibrisportfairy@gmail.com.