With Warndu, Damien Coulthard and Rebecca Sullivan champion Australian native ingredients through their brews, vinegars and oils as they want home cooks to start utilising outback ingredients so the industry is sustainable.
They launched their brews early in 2016 and a pop-up restaurant came later in the year, where the star attraction was an Indigenous ‘pho’ featuring kangaroo and smoked emu broth with native greens and finger lime.
Aiming to add wellbeing and skincare products to the range of brew bags (including river mint and ant and quandong and aniseed myrtle) and cooking oils (such as wattleseed balsamic vinegar and native thyme oil), Warndu currently source their ingredients from Coulthard’s family as well as producers and farmers, but sourcing native produce is a tad trickier than other ingredients.
“We, like anyone who has come into the industry, had to learn the hard way,” says
Sullivan, who launched the Granny Skills movement in Australia a few years ago.
“You have to build relationships in the industry, you can’t just pick up the phone and go, ‘Hey, I want 15 kilos of Warragul greens’. It doesn’t work like that. We had to spend a good two years just figuring out where to buy all of this stuff from and who to buy it from.”
They also source ingredients from distributers such as Outback Pride and Something Wild as well as forage in the Adelaide Hills and source from Coulthard’s family in the Flinders Ranges.
“Our major objective is to be growers as well,” Sullivan says.
“We’ve just started getting the soil ready at my parents place in Clare and at Damien’s parents place in Quorn. We’re just in the process of getting our soil really healthy to start planting next year. We’re also looking to do similar things with a bunch of other people. We’ve been chatting to Brendan [Carter] from Unico Zelo about growing stuff together.”
While there have been native ingredient booms in the past, Sullivan believes that the current Indigenous food trend needs to escape restaurants for home kitchens to be sustainable.
“It’s had three of four major spikes in the past five decades where it’s been trendy, it’s been on a menu in a fancy restaurant and then it’s trickled down to the magazines.
Farmers then plant it with expectations it will be really popular, but no one really knows how to use it at home. That’s what we’re trying to set up, so people can cook this stuff at home. We hope by way of doing that, and working together with our peers, we can grow a sustainable industry so that when someone goes and plants a lot of native ingredients they’re not going to get ripped out a year later because no one’s buying it.”