Dale delivers a bagful of Bush tucker experiences - My Weekly Preview
Aunty Dale Chapman has spent her life championing the use of bushfoods in modern cooking and medicines. An Indigenous woman born in Dirranbandi in southwest Queensland on Yuwaalaraay and Kooma tribal lands, Dale has lived and worked on Gubbi Gubbi land, known as the Sunshine Coast, since 1976.
But her roles as a celebrated and award-winning chef, cookbook author, public speaker, television personality, lecturer and Adjunct Senior Fellow in the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, as well as Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce and Slow Food International member, are what have empowered her to pioneer the development, marketing and distribution of bushfoods to a wider audience.
By establishing her Forest Glen-based business, My Dilly Bag, 20 years ago, she has been at the forefront of not only re-educating Indigenous people about bushfoods and botanicals but also introducing other cultures throughout Australia and around the globe to their benefits.
Her online recipes, her Bushfood Pantry’s products and seasonal native ingredients, along with artisan creations using authentic ancient flavours (including Caloundra’s award-winning Beachtree Distilling Co spirits) all help to educate – the key, as she sees it, to deepening understanding of ancient practices and people’s knowledge.
Dale takes her business a step further by conducting Bushfood Workshops and Training Sessions throughout the year to present an array of flavours and textures and demonstrate how easy they can be incorporated into our daily lives. But she helps create the ultimate bushfoods immersion at Witjuti Grub Bushfood Nursery in Falls Creek Road, Obi Obi, where exploring, foraging and harvesting seasonal bushfood leads to a carefully curated three-course bushfoods menu ($130 per head).
Dale finds first-time shoppers and cooking and experience participants quickly become converts. “Those who are tasting for the first time are genuinely surprised and grateful for the opportunity,” Dale says. “Non-novices are keen to share their knowledge and can still be surprised with the new exposition of native foods available on the market.
“The more we share with each other and the science is applied to the botanicals, the more we are willing to try our ancient foods and medicines. “These ancient herbs and spices are a superfood with rich and diverse health benefits for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, children’s mental health, and all-round well-being of self – just what nature intended for our heart and soul.
“For example, Kakadu plum has the highest Vitamin C in the world, pepperberries are anti-inflammatory and wattleseed has low GI.” Dale agrees that the tide is turning on what we eat, given increasing acceptance of vegan and raw foods. And bushfoods is part of that change. “I believe we are wanting to go back to our ancestral way of life – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” she says. “Eating fresh and unprocessed foods gives me hope that our future generations will be a healthy and kinder nation after I’m gone.”
My Dilly Bag has allowed Dale to achieve very important goals: working sustainably with Aboriginal communities that grow and harvest Australian sovereign food and botanical ingredients and Indigenous artisan creators, as well as empowering communities to maintain their traditions, and create new income streams and cultural pride for a more positive future.
Bushfoods are at the heart of everything she does. “It’s my birthright and role to keep fresh and front and centre in the minds of fellow Australians and visitors to our country the vast varieties, flavours and medicinal values Australian sovereign foods and botanicals play on our dinner tables and in our medicine cabinets,” she says.
“Supporting an Aboriginal business will change lives, families and communities will thrive and the future of Australian bushfood and botanicals is guaranteed ... make our Ancestors proud.
“It is my life’s work and sharing what I love to do with teachers and young people is a bonus. “I love my life.” Visit mydillybag.com.au
Aunty Dale's famous Wattleseed Tiramisu recipe featured alongside the article. Click here to view recipe.
As published in My Weekly Preview - 2 February 2023