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The Cheeky Olive

Home > Sydney > Australian Bush Tucker | Competitions | Cooking Lessons | Fun Things To Do
by lilbusgirl (subscribe)
Published July 10th 2022
Who will deliver the best Australian flavour?
Black Olive aka Mark Olive has been a chef for over 40 years and become a well-known Australian celebrity with his charismatic style and creative approach to food, starring in his own television series Outback Café and host of lifestyle and travel shows nationally and globally. He has much passion for fusing native food and culture resulting in a huge international global profile in gourmet Australian indigenous cuisine. As a Bundgalung man, Mark's family is from the Northern Rivers region of NSW and became interested in cooking as a child watching his mother and aunt prepare meals.

It was interesting to note that Mark has loved working with native foods and foraging around, don't be surprised to him scratching around in your front yard. He said "People grow Lilly Pilly and think it's an ornamental shrub but they're in for a great big shock when they find out the berries are edible."

With a background studying with an Italian chef, his apprenticeship has taken him on a journey of cross cultures and into a career that has enabled him to take these indigenous ingredients and teach indigenous and non-indigenous kids in the country and to chefs overseas as well.

The Cheeky Olive combines Mark's passion for cooking and intimate knowledge of native ingredients into a team-building product in collaboration with Cheeky Food Events which provides a platform for colleagues to interact and connect in a fun way.

In light of celebrating Naidoc Week, it was exciting to cook with one celebrity First Nations chef and cook with native herbs and spices.

Entering the Radisson Blue Conference room, we were welcomed with a traditional white chef hat as we eyed our potential opponents and the room layout with cooking stations, two tables set up with aprons and produce. With introductions and safety protocols out of the way, we randomly select a table and the teams are settled. It isn't long to see who are the competitive Masterchefs, as they're bouncing and rearing to go.

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Plate up and tucker in. Me with Mark Olive- celebrity First Nations Chef and Melinda- Cheeky Olive Right hand person

We are instructed that there are five different recipe cards hidden under the fresh ingredients at each table. Eyeing my neighbours we pull out our recipe card… (drum roll) its Macadamia nut potato salad with capers, our other team mates pull out Barramundi fillets in paperbark, Dukkha crusted kangaroo fillets, Steamed seasonal vegies with red wine vinaigrette and Mini pavlovas with wattle seed cream and rosella coulis.

Not too much time to ponder about what's involved with each recipe as Mark yells 'start'. It's the first few moments of chaos, as the typical MasterChef kitchen would be. Some start reading the recipe and some participants are already running around asking everyone "where's the pot? where's the sink?"

It does take a few minutes or so to adjust, to see where the bowls are, the gas cooktop, the salt and pepper, ladles and spoons and all the Masterchef competitors scurrying around everywhere.

But with much help at hand, we quickly find our feet. I join up with a team of 3, my teammate Simon cuts up the potato and tells me he doesn't cook as he runs off to find a pot to boil the potatoes in. 'Oh dear, should I have been more questioning of his food prep skills before joining forces.' We will have to see.

Lauren starts reading the barramundi recipe card dish and assists our neighbours on our table team. I grab the herbs that we need for our dish. Finely cutting up the shallots, these ones have the same onion effect as I keep the tears at bay.

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Amateur masterchefs at work (photo courtesy of Cheek Food Events)

Mark walks over and advises us to get in there and 'tear the herbs with our hands' but advises not too much ground pepper berry from Tasmania as it's strong and may turn our salad purple. 'Maybe that will get us more marks for presentation?'

Mark gets us to sample the ground bush tomato, a pinch into our mouths he says, 'now roll it around the roof of your mouth'. I first taste bitterness but then a slight sweetness comes through. That will be a flavour bomb as part of the dukkha for the kangaroo fillets.

Our teammate Simon rushes over asking what's next on the recipe card. We read on and note that it's only a few more steps to finish. Roasting macadamia nuts and making the dressing. We watch the swirling quartered potatoes in the boiling water as Simon checks to see if they are done.

The quartered potatoes may have been slightly larger than bite-size, so the cooking time is a little longer than expected. We make an executive decision to leave the chunky size potatoes and continue on. Lauren whips the olive oil, red wine vinegar and lemon juice until emulsified. Finally, the potatoes are cooked to correct softness.

Looking around at the surrounding scene of paperbark being ripped, kangaroo fillets sizzling on the hotplates, rosella coulis being simmered to jam consistency. The sense of urgency is heightened with smells. 'Oh hang on, I smell burning, quick, add water to the pans for the steamers.' I run over to assist another teammate with wrapping the barramundi fillets, cutting the string to tie it together.

The countdown has started, we rush around to get the Macadamia nut potato salad with capers ready and plated. 'Hang on was it 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon of capers?'. let's make it 1 tablespoon.

Simon and I collectively gently toss all the ingredients, Lauren runs to find a serving bowl. Whew, our dish is done and on the table. We look around and watch Mark professionally styling the buffet with our dishes. The awards for best dishes are handed out, to the team that cooked the kangaroo to perfection, the beautifully presented Eton mess and the favourite, our potato salad.

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Amazing spread of food using Bush Tucker

Digging into this delicious banquet of food cooked by Team 1 and Team 2, we mingle and laugh about our experiences, appreciating the fun and interactive evening with newfound friends.

Mark shares with us his insight of "what we can achieve with these inspired cooking sessions, it's something that we can share as a nation. We are one. Food brings all cultures together."

How true and what good fun it was. Who knows you may be cooking with kangaroo, emu or crocodile. It's a fun night. Olive is right, 'We are one big family and tonight was no exception.'

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It's a wrap (photo courtesy of Cheek Food Events)

The experience is available for private bookings, business events and conferences, and incentives for groups of 10 or more people.

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*lilbusgirl was invited as a guest
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Why? Experience Australia's FIRST Indigenous, MasterChef-inspired team-building experience.
Where: Anywhere
Your Comment
I love the artistry of using native foods which are both interesting and healthy too, I'm sure
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|5088) 32 days ago
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