Mark Olive
"The Black Olive" and Outback Academy

"A Taste of Harmony helps us to understand the diverse nature of our country and to discover the extreme range of foods on offer"

See Mark's truly Australian Crusted Emu and Kangaroo Fillet recipe here

What is your cultural background?

Aboriginal (Bundjalung) Family from Northern Rivers of NSW but born and grew up in Wollongong on Tharawal country.

How has Australia’s diverse culture impacted on the foods you cook?

I trained and studied under an Italian chef whilst finishing my apprenticeship.  I grew up in a diverse community which together with the influence of the Italian chef encouraged me to create my own Contemporary Australian/Aboriginal cuisine incorporating many of the Indigenous foods that are available in Australia.

What role does food play in bringing cultures together?

I believe food plays an important role, it crosses boundaries, breaks down barriers, because everyone has to eat and it is a common thread across all cultures.  Growing up in Dapto my neighbours were English, Italian, Yugaslavian, Dutch, Vietnamese and many more and eating different foods when I was invited over was common but it also gave me an insight into where the family came from and what traditional dishes they still prepared even though living in Australia.

Why do you think it’s important to learn about and understand the different cultures of the people you work with?

Growing up in Wollongong was and is still a very diverse cultural city.  Since the beginning of the Steelworks and the Coalmines they have employed people from all over the world who settled in the city and surrounding suburbs.  Born and growing up amongst a hugely diverse population you didn’t see any real difference between families, it was only when you get older you understand the diverse religions and beliefs amongst your friends.

Why should Australians get involved with A Taste of Harmony?

To understand the diverse nature of our country and to discover the extreme range of foods on offer, on our own doorstep, but more importantly to discover the unique flavours of our own country and express and be proud that it is our national cuisine.  And lastly to sit down with someone from totally out of their comfort zone to experience a meal and conversation and find a common bond through the conversation which usually comes about when eating something unique and discussing it.

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