Last year – when the world was reckoning with police brutality cases overseas, and Australians were marching to call for an end to Indigenous Australian deaths in custody – there were cries for increased diversity across all industries, including hospitality and food media.

Rather than waiting for change to happen, then-Vue Group digital content coordinator and food journalist Rushani Epa decided to spark it herself. She launched Colournary Magazine as an online publication in June 2020 to celebrate and amplify the voices of First Nations, Black and People of Colour (POC) creatives through food, culture and cuisine.

“I think that lack of diversity in the media industry – coupled with hospitality – means we’re not seeing our cultures heralded in the way they should be. We’re not seeing them break past this stigma against them and the stereotypes that come with it, like being pigeonholed into certain price points, or the whole debate about what is ‘authentic’,” she tells Broadsheet.

“I honestly think we can change the conversation and change the way people can be heard if there’s more diversity in the media industry and hospitality [industry].”

More than a year after the website went live – featuring exclusive recipes from chefs and cooks across the country, as well features and interviews – Colournary Magazine’s first print issue is almost here. You can pre-order a copy of it for $22, and its theme is “Country”.

“The reason I chose Country was not only as a tribute to First Nations people, but also because Country has so many different meanings to so many people and when we look at Country through the lens of – in particular – First Nations, Black and People of Colour, it’s often a case of colonisation or migration. And it can have a really interesting connotation [for] each person,” Epa says.

The first issue will be printed by First Nations-owned and operated Indigi-Print and features a full page ad for Common Ground, an Indigenous-led not-for-profit working to centre First Nations people through traditional knowledge, culture and stories.

There’s also a feature on Nornie Bero, the Torres Strait Islander chef-restaurateur behind Melbourne cafe Mabu Mabu and the newly opened Big Esso.

You will also score recipes from Armenian-Australian chef Tom Sarafian (ex-Bar Saracen head chef), Harry Mangat of Biji Dining and Filipino gelato genius John Rivera of Kariton Sorbetes (ex-Lume) in Melbourne, as well as a Sri Lankan recipe from Epa’s mum.

Other stories and features include an interview with Juan Berbeo of Colombian street food diner Berbeo Bros, a feature on Indonesian fried rice dish nasi goreng, and a personal essay from Dennis Yong of Furrmien – a business tackling food waste through fermentation.

“I think it all ties into Country because food, essentially, comes from the land and it’s the land that we live on that we need to nurture,” Epa says. “The thing I’m proudest of is that it’s super diverse – everyone’s contributed from all across the world, which is very exciting.”

It’s not just multicultural within the pages, Colournary Magazine is committed to engaging First Nations, Black and POC writers, photographers, illustrators and contributors too.

“We’re an avenue and a platform purely for these minorities,” Epa adds. “It's kind of reclaiming our own stories – that’s how I see it.”

Find out more about Colournary Magazine’s first print issue. Sarafian will also be hosting an Instagram cook-along for the launch.

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