PEOPLE keep coming back to Brigid Corcoran to help feed their appetite for Australian bush foods.
The growing desire to learn more about local and ancient, native produce made the decision easy for Ms Corcoran to open her Saltbush Kitchen store as a permanent fixture in Buninyong.
"People keep coming back for learning more about bush foods, how to introduce them into their kitchens and for general conversations about this all," Ms Corcoran said. "Learning is important. This is so much about giving people access to bush foods and telling that story.
Saltbush Kitchen has emerged from a start as a cafe in the now-defunct Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.
It has been a long time coming, but I'm confident bush food is becoming part of our nation's tradition at the heart of our food culture and food identity.
Ms Corcoran launched a pop-up shop in a Buninyong cellar for Christmas and this is where she has revamped the shop as a permanent base with an expanded range of local produce with an Australian native focus.
A key new feature is fresh murnong, or yam daisies, for sale. The root vegetable was a staple in the diet of Aboriginal people living in Buninyong and Ballarat - it is this fact that makes students sit up and take note in Saltbush Kitchen classes at Ballarat Tech School.
Yam daisies, while small in size, are reported to have eight times more nutrition than a potato. They are also becoming increasingly popular in restaurants and, coincidentally, are a feature in Sovereign Hill's new sound-and-light show Aura.
This mix of old history and new in a modern contemporary Australia plays out in Ms Corcoran's Buninyong shop. The space has been renovated to reveal the original 1860s ceiling, which matches the stone walls. Her bright artwork lines walls and feature on Saltbush product.
A tasting space will allow customers to compare taste and smell of 16 favourite kitchen spices, as voted by her social media followers, alongside eight Australian bush foods.
Popular cookbooks are on hand to promote discussion and consideration for how to adapt recipes using bush food for flavour.
Ms Corcoran said people could take their time tasting and smelling the difference if it helps them feel more comfortable in using native foods.
The shift towards sustainable, native foods had been a "slow burn" Ms Corcoran said, but was worth sharing.
Saltbush Kitchen, tucked behind Warrenheip Street shopfronts, will open on Sundays initially and by appointment as business developed. The shop will open this Sunday after an official opening with Wadawurrung woman Tammy Gilson.
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