• Gunditjmarra chef Zach Green has opened Darwin's first Indigenous restaurant. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Gunditjmarra chef Zach Green has opened Darwin's first Indigenous restaurant, and the locals are loving it.
Madeline Hayman-Reber

4 May 2018 - 4:14 PM  UPDATED 4 May 2018 - 4:14 PM

Gunditjmarra man Zach Green is originally from Victoria, but when he moved to the Top End he fell in love with the different food and culture.

He opened Elijah's Kitchen when he realised there were no Indigenous restaurants in Darwin, carefully crafting a menu of dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.

“I’m doing a lot of Indigenous foods that you find in the community but I think the point of difference of what Elijah’s is all about is telling stories through the food," Mr Green told NITV News.

“So say we get crocodile meat, I’ll ask where it comes from. If it comes from Arnhem Land, then I tell the story of what the crocodile represents for Yolngu people.”

But he says Indigenous dishes aren't all about protein, which means he can easily cater to many different dietary requirements.

"So a couple of people have already copied me, as they do towards Aboriginal people."

"I think a lot of people actually don’t realise when it comes to celebrating Indigenous culture through food you can do it to all dietary requirements," Mr Green said.

“That’s why food is the greatest connector of them all because if I was to do a roasted bush potato or a yam salad, you know there’s stories behind there… If I was to do a Kakadu plum tart, there’s stories behind the Kakadu plum.

“I cater to all dietary requirements, and it’s actually special because every ingredient that I do - whether it’s for people who are vegan or vegetarian or pescatarian - there’s always a story behind it.”

His unique menu, and way of telling stories through food has also inspired other chefs. While Elijah's Kitchen is proud to be the only restaurant in Darwin currently serving magpie goose, Mr Green has heard that that's about to change.

“I found out about two days ago that a restaurant I know is going to be serving magpie goose now that they’ve seen what I’ve been able to do with it," he said.

"So a couple of people have already copied me, as they do towards Aboriginal people."

After going through a couple of cultural names for his restaurant, Mr Green decided on 'Elijah's' - named after his son who sadly passed away.

“People ask me how does it change you, and I always say to people, you know, when you find out that you’re going to be a father for the first time, you don’t realise how much it changes you," Mr Green said.

“And then when you’re told you’re not going to be a father anymore because you’ve lost your son, it’s almost at that point you don’t know how to cope with that situation and for me to cope with that situation is my cooking.”

Despite cultural protocols, Mr Green wants to use Elijah's name because it's important to him.

“In the Aboriginal community and Aboriginal culture, we’re not allowed to speak the name of someone that’s passed away but I wanted to change that a little bit. 

“Not change it so I went against my Elders, but I wanted to represent my son in a way where his essence still lives on through the food that I cook.”

For those in Darwin interested in sampling Elijah's menu, Mr Green recommends readers try his barramundi wrapped in paperbark.

You can check out Elijah's Kitchen at Darwin's Tamarind Park on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 6pm to 9pm, and East Point Reserve at Fannie Bay on Fridays from 6pm to 9pm.

Mr Green will also be in Melbourne on June 2 and 3 for two events at Darebin Arts Centre.

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