Watching my mum, godmother, and aunts cook sparked the flame that was to become my passion. Sitting and watching them mix ingredients together, blend them, and put them in an oven to become a cake was magic to me. But best of all, we got to eat it afterwards!
There have been many career highlights for me. Getting my apprenticeship was one of them and it has taken me to a lot of places. Falling into a TV career during and after studying for a diploma in theatre at Swinburne University of Technology was also a highlight. It saw me accepted into the Victorian College of the Arts film school and led me to writing my TV series Outback Café.
Another highlight was a collaboration with Tourism Australia to host G’Day Canada across 2007 and 2008 to represent Australian Aboriginal culture through food around the world. Hosting Oprah’s guests on her Australian tour in 2010 was also a standout moment. I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing highlights in my lifetime.
Native ingredients have been a constant in my life. When I finished my apprenticeship, I was able to look outside the box and combine native flavours with everyday recipes. After years of research and meeting communities and elders from around the country, it made me wonder how much more was possible in developing new flavours and introducing them to the wider community. I fell in love with our unique produce.
The staples of lemon myrtle and wattle seed have become extremely popular and can be easily introduced into most dishes. Currently, our native fruits are making their mark. Fruits such as quandong, riberry, lilly pilly, and lemon aspen are some of my favourites. Their versatility lends themselves to both sweet and savoury dishes and the best way for chefs to introduce them into their recipes is through muffins, sauces, and cakes.
A collaboration with Doltone Hospitality Group, my management MissusM Creative, and my own drive and persistence led to the opening of Midden by Mark Olive this year. Truly, I’m still pinching myself to have been gifted an indigenous restaurant in such an iconic structure on Tubergule which is the traditional Gadigal name for Bennelong Point.
Midden is in the epicentre of an iconic engineering masterpiece, and it still makes me giddy to be part of such a historic moment in our time. I hope we are a place for visitors from around the world and across the country who want to visit a unique restaurant in an ideal location which captures their tastebuds and soul while dining within a visual postcard.
Experimental, adventurous, and unique are words that have been thrown out by patrons who have dined at Midden so far. They have given us great feedback. Some of our signature dishes include wallaby shanks, the indigenous tasting plates, our barramundi, and a roasted wattle seed pavlova I’ve been doing for decades — it’s always a winner!
The rest of the year is full of special events at Midden, food shows, and more visits to communities, schools, festivals, and finishing my new book.