Pawa Café and Bar: Melbourne’s newest spot introducing indigenous ingredients to modern Aussie dishes

Gunditjmara and Yuin culinary entrepreneur Niyoka Bundle and her husband, Isle of Man chef Vincent Manning, have opened Pawa Café and Bar in Hamer Hall on Southbank Promenade.

Arts Center Melbourne welcomes a new permanent offering from the Pawa Catering team joining neighboring restaurants Saké and Teatro.

Pawa means ‘cook’ in the language of the Gunditjmara people and, like their catering company, the cafe and bar will introduce indigenous ingredients into modern Australian dishes to create unique and exciting flavours. With a focus on ethical and sustainable practices throughout the supply chain, the team works with a network of indigenous native growers, farmers and food collectors. Melbourne’s abundance of local native plants and ingredients is used wherever possible to support suppliers of local produce.

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During the day, Pawa will operate as a cafeteria with a menu that includes Lilly Pilly Danish scones, muntrie berry pain aux chocolat, strawberry gummy brownie and native grazing boards, with kangaroo salami in red wine and native cheese. Then, in the evening, it will become a bar where visitors can enjoy a selection of sharing food and drink options, including their Taka Gin, a native lemongrass and lemon-scented gum leaf along with cocktails of Home Grown and The Everleigh Bottling Co., as well as an all-Australian wine list.

“This is a very exciting time for us, our first cafe and bar where we can share native flavors that some may never have tasted before. It’s such a beautiful venue, overlooking the river in one of Melbourne’s most iconic buildings,” said Niyoka Bundle.

Bundle said she was inspired by experiences camping with the family, hunting and eating kangaroos, emus, goannas and red-bellied black snakes combined with cooking her grandmother’s handwritten recipes for comfort food including spaghetti bolognese, quiches , lemon meringue pie and hedgehog slices.

“I have always been obsessed with food and cooking. I would cook for my grandfather following my grandmother’s recipes and would carry a recipe book/binder. I also loved watching chef Iain Hewitson on TV,” Bundle continued.

The culinary entrepreneur says she is determined to showcase the incredible flavors of native ingredients through Australian food. She learned to use native ingredients by combining Western cooking with native plants and foods. Along with her husband, chef Vincent Manning, she created a menu that fused the two.

Warrigal greens or saltbush are used to replace salt, lilly pilly can be used as a sweetener for cakes, and native lemongrass brings a fresh flavor.

Arts Center Melbourne Customer Experience Design Director Blake Oliver said Arts Center Melbourne was delighted to welcome Niyoka and Vincent to Hamer Hall: “Visitors to Arts Center Melbourne and Southbank are looking for unique food and drink. , exciting and delicious, and the Pawa team will deliver it to you, exactly that,” said Oliver.

Pawa Catering, which recently partnered with Arts Center Melbourne to offer a catering option at all of its venues, is dedicated to providing an environmentally friendly and sustainable product and workplace for Aboriginal communities.

For more information visit the website here.