forager of boutique wild herbs, flowers, succulents, leaves and seaweed
Exclusively foraged for
“If you see how a plant grows and you taste it in situ you have a perfect example of how it should taste on the plate”Rene Redzepi
I’ve learnt a lot about the creative process working as a full time chef in the industry. Every dish that has really appealed to me has evoked an emotional response or bought up a past memory. At the heart of the creative process there was an ‘A’ grade quality ingredient before passion, technique and commitment were applied
Hence, the need to find the best ingredients to work with for a chef becomes extremely important. In my short career working in hatted restaurants and temporarily at Noma in Sydney the importance of reconnecting and exploring the landscape become apparent. Foraging is about understanding ingredients we have at our fingertips and learning to taste, smell and appreciate the influence of seasonality. To me this deep connection with ingredients and being able to hand pick them each week gives you a deeper appreciation for what it means to be a local chef. Consequently this gives give your more respect and excites creative process. It is this philosophy that is at the heart of Wild Forage Australia.
Seasonality and foraging go hand in hand. It is the changing season and varying weather patterns that gives us a window into the edible potential of our landscape.
Species available for supply may change significantly from week to week depending on a number of factors including rainfall, humidity, residual soil moisture, on shore and off shore wind direction, swell, tide height and catchment flood potential. This makes the act of foraging sustainable in terms of the collection process.
The key difference over grown produce is there are no inputs of chemical, fertiliser or sprays and the wild flavour of each species acts as a benchmark for chefs of what that species should taste like without any human input.
Holding Degrees in Environmental Management Ecology & Conservation and a Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science from Auckland University Nick Blake has a unique ability to identify unsuitable foraging environments. Although these assessments are heavily visually, as a director Nick holds commercial experience conducting waste water quality analysis identifying various ions that ca cause human health related problems.
He has experience conducting testings on post closure mining sites and has undertaken commercial air quality assessments from primary industry, road side emissions and particulate monitoring for local council. He and has extensive field experience designing and assessing ecological corridors, working on off shore islands conducting forest ecology assessments of Kauri plantations with the Department of Conservation in New Zealand. He has also worked on assessing and managing risks of eutrophication on fresh water bodies and has GIS mapping experience and a grounding in marine ecology and terrestrial botany.
Nick has worked as a Global Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for luxury hotels in New Zealand and in Hong Kong where he maintained and implemented a company wide sustainability action plan across 8 international properties. He later worked for EarthCheck a sustainable tourism benchmarking and consulting company in Brisbane before starting a new career as a chef on the Sunshine Coast. His broad experience in both sectors forms his unique approach and foraging etiquette
SUSTAINABILITY & COMPLIANCE
As an environmentally and socially conscious business-Wild Forage Australia recognises the potential impact that its activities can have on the environment and surrounding communities. In recognition of potential risks Wild Forage Australia has undergone due diligence assessments with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to ascertain the relevant protections in place for each species identified as potentially forageable. A complete list of ear marked species has been supplied to the department in April 2016 and formal communication and approvals documented for future reference. The Queensland Minister for the Environment and been contacted personally and local government Environmental Ranges and Wildlife Managers appointed to assess associated risks.
The 1992 Nature Conservation Management and Wildlife Management Act have been consulted for compliance purposes and relevant sub sections provided to Wild Forage Australia to support its activities against current legislation. Wild Forage Australia does not forage for native species or native bush food’ exotic and localised species common to the area classified as species of ‘least concern’ are targeted specifically as they can be harvested sustainable and carry no protection status.