I’m no fan of Coles. They are known for wielding their considerable market power to screw prices down for suppliers and they have a reputation for spending lots of money to silence critics of some of their practices and then boasting about it.
When I read in B&T that Heston Blumenthal was teaming up with Coles, my instinct was to think that the storied chef had sold out, but on reflection, there’s one thing about this partnership that makes me think this might not be a bad thing.
Sorely lacking from much Australian cuisine today is the use of native ingredients in cooking. We have some beautiful, grossly underutilised ingredients right at our doorstep. From the fragrant lemon myrtle to tart finger lime and the more well known macadamia, there are so many ways to flavour a dish with native Australian ingredients.
Blumenthal has stated that his intention is to use as many Australian and indigenous ingredients as possible in his new Coles range. There are many brilliant Australian chefs using these ingredients, but to have someone with star power of Heston Blumenthal promoting these ingredients is going to be a boon for the native ingredient industry in Australia, and not just those who supply Coles.
I spoke to Jude Mayall who is a director of Australian native food peak body ANFIL and the owner of outbackchef.com.au who said, “People don’t know how to use native Australian ingredients. They think they belong out in the bush with witchety grubs but there’s so much more to it than that. If these [Heston Blumenthal] products show people how to incorporate native Australian ingredients in their cooking, then I’m all for it.”
Time will tell how much of an impact Heston’s range will have on the Australian native food industry, but I hope that the rising prominence of Australian native foods will see people look beyond the supermarket shelves to the incredible and largely untapped resources around us.