Oorala 30: Clayton Donovan cooking demos part of 30-year celebration

GUEST CHEF: Clayton Donovan will host cooking demonstrations at the Oorala 30 Open Day on October 31, as part of their 30-year celebrations.
GUEST CHEF: Clayton Donovan will host cooking demonstrations at the Oorala 30 Open Day on October 31, as part of their 30-year celebrations.

One of Australia’s most acclaimed Aboriginal chefs, Clayton Donovan, will be firing-up the burners and sharing his love of bush tucker at the Oorala Aboriginal Centre on October 31.

The centre, established at the University of New England in 1986, is celebrating 30 years of educational programs in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 

Oorala now has more than 800 enrolled students, and the three-week celebration includes an art exhibition, which opened Wednesday, and a sunset opening ceremony next Monday evening.

Mr Donovan’s cooking demonstrations will be part of an open day at the centre on Tuesday, October 31, which will also include performances by Isaiah Firebrace, Rodger and Buddy Knox, Christian Sternbeck, the Birabun Dancers and the Duval Deadly Dancers.

Next week’s sunset opening ceremony will be held on the southern lawn in the front of Booloominbah where vice-chancellor, Professor Annabelle Duncan, will deliver an opening speech and Greg Davison, Director of Oorala Aboriginal Centre will also speak. As the sun sets ‘Celebrating 30 Years’ events will be launched by the raising of the flags.

Mr Donovan, who grew up on Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung land on the mid north coast, is preparing to create a fusion of flavours in the kitchen at the Oorala 30 Open Day. During two cooking demonstrations, Mr Donovan will be slicing and dicing and cooking with the aim of spreading the word about bush tucker.

He specialises in a cuisine using ingredients sourced from the Australian bush. He does his own foraging for indigenous foods with the aim of introducing new and exciting flavours to his menus.

His innovative approach earned him a Chef’s Hat from the Australian Good Food Guide in 2011 and his international experience has enabled him to produce a unique and contemporary cuisine with an indigenous twist that has been commended by food writers and diners.

“Concepts and ideas are changing about the role of bush foods in modern cuisine,” Mr Donovan said. “Everyone can now access the knowledge to use bush foods, and to see it and taste the results.”

Mr Donovan started learning about native produce when he was four-years-old and was taken walking with his aunties and grandmothers. He would help them collect what they found in the bush and cook it up at their homes.

When he unleashes this lifetime of accumulated knowledge at the open day, everyone is welcome to attend, watch and eat – and to learn afresh that food really does bind all cultures.