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Zach Green – chef

Zach Green has been a chef for most of his working life, but it was a personal tragedy that led him to delve deeper into food, cooking and his Aboriginal heritage.

The 28-year-old is in Darwin plan- ning his next Indigenous-focused pop-up restaurant, following the success of his first held last month at The O.A.K in Darwin.

With dishes like cured crocodile with compressed watermelon and kaffir lime dressing, slow cooked buffalo steamed buns and green ant ginger cheesecake, Green’s innovative and delicious use of Top End ingredients was a hit and nudged him on to produce more events like it.

In the not-so-distant future the chef wants to open a restaurant serving similarly creative food that show- cases authentic Indigenous culture, while tapping into tourism’s hunger for edible experiences.

“Obviously the pop-up is only giving a glimpse of what the restaurant will be like and what will be on offer there,” he says.

Green moved to the Top End with his fiancée, Yolngu woman and Marngrook Footy Show panel member Leila Gurruwiwi.

The pair lost two pregnancies to miscarriage, a sorrow that sent Green into a ‘deep hole’, but from which he emerged with a new passion, naming his cooking project, Elijah’s Kitchen, after one of the babies.

“With the passing of my sons, it took me to the point where cooking brought me out of the deep hole – it really saved my life,” he says.

“I felt that food was my connection to my culture and the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander cultures of Australia.”

Green’s grandmother is a Gunditjma- ra woman from southwest Victoria, but she only told her children she was Aboriginal when Green was 12.

“I found that whenever I was going to communities, if it was in WA or in the NT or Queensland and I was cooking traditional food, I learned about stories and that gave me a massive boost of confidence, knowing I was being connected to culture through food,” he says.

“The main ingredients that I love are all the native game – from croco- dile to kangaroo, to emu to camel, buffalo, wild boar and wallaby – and magpie goose.”

With such ancient and valued foods on our doorstep, surely it’s time they made a stronger appearance on Darwin’s restaurant tables. Could Zach Green be the one to do it? Here’s hoping. 

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