Page 22 - Foodservice magazine may 2019
P. 22

From top: Charcoal Lane dining room. Gypsy Rose's macadamia and chocolate torte with chocolate ganache, river mint ice-cream and river mint meringue soil.
Due to increasing popularity, short seasons and changing growing conditions, the barrier to acquiring these foods wholesale is not uncommon.
Muntrie berries, for example, native to the coastline along western Victoria and eastern South Australia, are only in season for two to three weeks a year. Hampton says that before the season even arrives, his supplier in South Australia will sell the whole crop.
It’s the same again with his desert lime supplier in Perth. “Her crop of desert limes is sold out before they’re even ripened. But I’ve been using her for 10 years now so she tends to stash some away for me. If it wasn’t because of that I wouldn’t be able to get that quality stuff,” he says.
The huge spike in demand for native ingredients over the last decade has put a strain on growers, as supply is yet to catch up.
“Now it’s a bit of a balance because a lot of the foods and fruits don’t crop every year. For example there are big areas where it might not rain for 10 years, so things won’t fruit or flower for 10 years, so to grow them commercially is really difficult,” says Hampton.
While some Indigenous communities have started to grow bush tucker commercially, Hampton says most of his suppliers are husband-and-wife teams who have started a second business alongside their day jobs.
“But now it’s at the stage where that’s starting to take over as a full-time gig for them, but a lot of those people are starting to retire as well. So that’s what we’re trying to do now: inspire people to keep it going,” he says.
Hampton hopes chefs across the country will let go of their perfectly symmetrical apples and frost-free tomatoes to express what Australian farmers can produce sustainably and soulfully.
“Everyone talks about seasonal and regional food and how great it is, but they’re talking about crops that are supposed to be grown in Europe. It doesn’t make any sense to me at all,” says Hampton.
“Every place you work at they import stuff from every country,” adds Rose, “but you import something from Italy and it costs less than something from Western Australia.”
The first step: educate yourself, ask questions, and never stop tasting. Go out and try unfamiliar native ingredients in restaurants, markets or from your own suppliers, before you order another box of Tahitian limes.
Just don’t go and chomp into a whole finger lime like Hampton says Harry the Duke of Sussex did when he and Meghan the Duchess of Sussex visited Charcoal Lane for an Australian food tasting last year.

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