Gidji Cafe and Catering Company has opened in Burnett Heads making its bush tucker inspired menu more accessible to the community.
The cafe showcases native produce on a new level, with two extensively trained chefs providing the community with a delicious new experience.
Indigenous training organisation Yalga Binbi Institute was engaged by Gidarjil Development Corporation to deliver accredited hospitality training to students in the areas of commercial cookery and front of house operations.
Yalga-binbi Institute Chief Executive Officer Tom Osbourne said Gidarjil was proud to announce the opening of Gidji Cafe and Catering Company near the Port of Bundaberg.
Tom said the new café and catering business was initiated after Gidarjil entered a partnership with the Department of Science and Environment to cater for the Mon Repos Turtle Centre.
The new café, with Indigenous inspired recipes using locally sourced bush tucker, offers tastes to incorporate the slogan “where the bush meets the sea”.
“We have a brand-new commercial kitchen at the training centre and a catering van, so we thought this would be an opportunity to service not only Mon Repos, but also the wider community,” Tom said.
“Our new fully functional commercial facility and café is already attracting customers – local, national and international – with menus featuring bush tucker options for onsite and offsite delivery.
“It is all geared toward what we wanted to do with Mon Repos, but we now have the ability to service and cater for corporate businesses in town.”
Jade creates innovative food at Gidji Cafe
Gidji Café and Catering Company hospitality manager Jade Purcell, 38, is a proud Tarebilang Bunda man who has had an extensive career in the hospitality industry along the east coast of Australia.
Tom said they’re excited to have Jade onboard creating innovative food with an Indigenous twist.
“Jade’s working career actually started with Gidarjil and has turned a full circle with him now back on board as our head chef,” Tom said.
“Twenty years ago, Jade was convinced he wanted a career as a carpenter and enrolled in a Gidarjil Construction training course that was delivered on site at Aboriginal owned and operated training facility, Thornhill.
“Jade loved the program, he recalls it was enjoyable, culturally important and character building, but carpentry wasn’t for him, he wanted to give hospitality a go.”
Starting as kitchen hand, Jade’s determination, attitude, and willingness to work endeared him to his superiors and he was encouraged to become an apprentice, assuming the role of sous chef and then head chef within two years.
“Coming back to Gidarjil means a lot to Jade. It reconnects him to his people and helps him to create and promote traditional authentic Indigenous cuisine to the local, national and international communities,” Tom said.
“He is also committed to passing on his culinary skills to the younger Indigenous community through vocational education.”
Tom said the food at Gidji Café and Catering Company was all prepared onsite, utilising the surrounding gardens to source the native ingredients.
“The bush tucker is grown in our gardens,” he said.
“We have these innovative chefs here, adding Indigenous flavours to produce delicious food.”
Tom said examples of menu items on offer at Gidji Café and Catering Company included:
Mini rolls with roast chicken, rocket, native pepper berry chutney and tomato, fresh salad wraps with warrigal pesto and homemade beef sausage rolls with Kakadu plum sweet chilli sauce.
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