Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo has been working in hospitality since she entered the workforce.  She’s a respected Redfern elder and role model.  She’s gained this recognition from her dedication to the local community, her wisdom and by leading with her actions not words.  She’s a strong Aboriginal woman, with a great love for community and possessing a gift of knowledge from her elders that she has shared throughout her life.

Now she’s gained even more recognition by her inclusion in the Great Australian Cookbook along with 99 other great Australian chefs the likes of Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander, Christine Mansfield, Adriano Zumbo, Neil Perry, Matt Moran and her friend and associate Kylie Kwong and fellow Aboriginal chef Clayton Donovan.

Photo: Cover of ‘The Great Australian Cookbook’

Aunty Beryl said when she got the opportunity to include her own recipe she took it without hesitation, saying she never lets an opportunity go by that acknowledges Aboriginal people.

“I felt honoured to be approached by the publisher to have an opportunity to develop a recipe to put in the Great Australian Cookbook.”  Said Aunty Beryl.

Aunty Beryl’s is one of 100 recipes that each chef individually contributed for the book.

Her work, she says,  is always informed by her elders.  Her contribution is a recipe of char grilled kangaroo fillet with a quandong jus, sweet potato mash and warrigal greens.

Photo: Char Grilled Kangaroo Fillet

“It’s a big plate of bush flavours so that I can share it with everyone.  Our people have eaten kangaroo for years.” Said Aunty Beryl.

Her approach included what her oldies taught her she says combined with today’s direction of contemporary foods, sweet, sour, healthy, carbs, protein and nutritional balance.

“You can’t put something on a plate or paperbark and not have a balance of food.   I think simple is best.  My oldies never cooked anything too outrageous and I learnt to cook off them very simple dishes.  It’s not that I can’t cook anything upmarket, I can!  It’s still upmarket!   It’s just a simple basic recipe that you can use at home. When Aboriginal people ask me. ‘What’s a jus?’   I tell them it’s a fancy French word for gravy,” Said Aunty.

She said the honour is hers, because chefs like Maggie Beer and others in the book like Kylie Kwong have always supported her training school at NCIE Job Ready.

“They’re all people that I admire and have learnt from and people that have supported me.” Said Aunty.

The Great Australian Cookbook was launched on September 21 in Sydney and will be widely available for sale at department and book stores Australia wide.