Beneath the timbers of Canberra’s many pine forests, along the shores of the lake, in the local bush reserves and even on the sides of suburban streets – there is a world of wild food in the Capital. Accessed by a select group of Canberra chefs, the city’s wild food biome is largely untapped, but chef Bernd Brademann of A.Baker in New Acton is constantly on the lookout for unique wild ingredients for his highly seasonal menus.
“There’s so much out there that people don’t realise is edible. I take the kids out and gather mushrooms. Anywhere on the lake from Civic around to Scrivener Dam there’s blackberries, mulberries, rosehips, cherry plums and walnut trees. Flowers and blossoms are great to pick in spring – you just have to know where to look and how to use them.”
The satisfaction in gathering wild ingredients, tasting edible plants and finding ways to incorporate them into a menu is a rewarding task for chefs, and for Bernd it’s all about connection – a way to relate his food to the city that surrounds him. “You try and work with the variety of flavours available to create something unique. Realising where things come from and how they grow, then using them within such a short time from picking – they can be on the menu within a few hours – it’s pretty cool. Being immersed in the environment, you can relate more to what you’re putting on the plate.”
Plants, flowers and nuts, fruits, shoots and fungi – the possibilities around the Capital are endless. Our exploration is limited and our knowledge is young, but it doesn’t take much to scratch the surface and begin discovering the wonders of Canberra’s wild food.