Davidson Plum Cobbler – Pinbone
This dish on the brunch menu at Pinbone is all about comfort and making the most of a short season; the restaurant team loves to forage for wild plums. Cobbler is a dish with roots in America’s Southern states, usually seen on dessert menus, but here’s it’s breakfast, served warm with nuts and yogurt. “I think as chefs it's our duty to hide desserts in breakfast whenever we can,” says chef and co-owner Mike Eggert, and we’re all for it. No extra sugar is added; he prefers to let the sweet and tart flavours of the plums shine through on their own. The team at Pinbone is dedicated to using Australian native ingredients when it has access to them but, “We don't try to use [specific] ingredients because they are Australian natives,” says Eggert. “I think if you are doing that then you’re forcing it, and that’s overcomplicating things.”

Wallaby-Tail Buns with Davidson Plum Sauce – Billy Kwong
Kylie Kwong has long been an avid promoter of Australian native produce. She’s known for sprinkling her dumplings with roasted crickets, serving a bowl of sugar ants as a creepy-crawly post-dessert snack and is one of only a handful of chefs in Sydney using wallaby meat, which she sources from the pristine environment of Flinders Island. “The wallabies graze on the island's salt-laden pastures and as a result they have the most delicious, clean-flavoured meat,” says Kwong. “Their meat is also a very sustainable source of protein, as the wallaby is actually a great pest on the island, so the more wallaby we eat, the better.” At Billy Kwong, Kwong’s riff on the Chinese pork bun is filled with soft and tender wallaby tail braised for several hours. The result is a filling that is, “rich and hearty, yet delicate and sweet at the same time.” The meat is stuffed into soft buns that are steamed to order, served with a sweet-and-sour Davidson plum sauce, made using another wonderful native Australian ingredient. “If we really wish to offer a truly unique Australian expression within our food,” says Kwong, “then integrating native ingredients into our dishes is one of the best ways in which to do this.”

Saltbush Tempura with Lemon Mayonnaise – Bar H
The saltbush is a rambling grey-blue shrub found in dry areas of inland Australia. Chef and owner of Surry Hills restaurant Bar H, Hamish Ingham, does a savoury dish with the plant, deep-fried and served with lemon and spicy mayo. It’s the perfect drinking snack: “I love the taste and texture when it is made as tempura. The crispy saltbush leaves are nice and juicy,” Ingham says. “I’ve always loved native ingredients. About 80 per cent of our dishes use native ingredients.”

Kangaroo Loin Carpaccio with Beetroot, Horseradish, Quandong and Balsamic Rye – Osteria di Russo & Russo
Did you know raw kangaroo is very similar to raw venison? Venison carpaccio is a traditional dish in the northern regions of Italy and when head chef Jason Saxby wanted to re-create it for the modern Italian restaurant, kangaroo was the perfect replacement. “It’s native, readily available and cheap. I don’t want to import anything I don’t have to,” says Saxby. Quandong also appears in the dish; a bright, plum-like fruit found in arid areas of Australia. “Quandongs have a natural sweet-and-sour flavour and a spongy texture. The acidity cuts through the gaminess of the kangaroo,” says Saxby.

Congee of Northern Australian Mud Crab, Fresh Palm Heart, Egg Yolk Emulsion – Quay
It’s always been critical for Quay’s Peter Gilmore to have a deep understanding of the qualities of the Australian produce he uses, where it comes from and who produces it. In this dish, he uses mud crab because it, “is the tastiest and juiciest crab native to Australia.” Specifically in this dish, “It offers the greatest yield and superior flavour and works very well with the rice-porridge congee,” Gilmore says. “I think it’s important for a chef to work within his environment.”