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Chew the Fat with Great Desert Cooks

Spend an hour in the kitchen with five extraordinary home cooks of Central Australia.

By Betty Sweetlove

Brand new via 8CCC Community Radio this summer is Great Cooks of the Desert. This heartwarming podcast takes the listener into five different desert kitchens for nourishing conversations about food, family and culture.

Each stand-alone episode introduces a different cook as they prepare something delicious from their repertoire. Giving a taste of what’s cooking behind kitchen doors across Central Australia, these conversations also tackle the big questions underpinning life in the desert.

Great Cooks of the Desert“The underlying question is what are you doing here, and why do people choose to live here.” says series producer and director, Rita Cattoni.

The project saw Cattoni searching for extra-special culinary storiesamongst the region’s diverse communities.

“We’ve all got quite wide circles of friends, so whenever I’d meet anybody, I’d talk about the project and ask them if they knew anybody who was doing any interesting food.”

Following the Central Australian grapevine led Cattoni to a series of far-reaching conversations, from discussing kangaroo salami with local artisan James Young, to hunting goanna with senior Warlpiri woman Yamurna Oldfield.

“I definitely wasn’t looking for professional cooks, I was looking for people who are really good home cooks, and that each person has a story to tell or represents a particular demographic of central Australia,” Cattoni says.

A conversation with health worker Flora Mpofu turns to Zimbabwean wedding celebration dishes, while cattle station manager Rebecca Cadzow shares her cheese-making tips.

In the final episode, local poet and media manager Laurie May explores the vital importance of locally grown produce.

“Every person and every story is there to represent a different part of life in Central Australia, and what I’m really trying to do is present a positive perspective on life.”

With a potential expansion of the show into TV, Cattoni is on the lookout for the next desert cooks with a great story to share.

“I’m looking for some new stories – I’m looking for someone I’d consider a young tradie, who maybe goes out camping and does a lot of crazy cooking.”

If you’re a food lover, or simply seeking a delightful companion to a long summer road trip, head to the 8CCC website to stream each mouth-watering episode. Listeners can even bring some desert goodness into their own kitchens, exploring Cattoni’s website for recipes from each episode.

Great Cooks of the Desert

Photos: Oliver Eclipse

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