Budding chefs dig deep for sustainability 

Ashley Modra is one of the CDU commercial cookery students learning that sustainability in the kitchen and fresh food go hand in hand

The first step in establishing a food hub at Charles Darwin University’s Palmerston campus has introduced commercial cookery students to the notion of paddock to plate, right on their doorstep.

The herb garden that has been established outside CDU’s commercial cookery training kitchen will help to educate students about sustainable cooking practices and what can be grown as part of a commercial kitchen.

CDU commercial cookery lecturer Jason Wilkes said that most chefs had herb gardens at home, and many commercial kitchens were looking towards more energy efficient and water saving equipment to become more sustainable and reduce costs.

“This is a great way to transfer knowledge about the sustainable direction of chefing to students at the beginning of their careers,” he said.

“The garden includes many of the herbs commonly used in cooking including turmeric, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilli, curry leaves and chives,” he said. “We are also establishing some tomatoes and spring onions and hope to grow some paw paws and citrus in the future.

“Although we already had a recycling system in place for bottles and cardboard, we will also begin composting kitchen scraps and using grey water to fertilize and water the garden.”

Mr Wilkes said the garden not only provided the training kitchen with a fresh renewable source of herbs, but also taught the students about produce availability during the seasons, and how to be innovative with ingredients when costs varied.

CDU Certificate III in Commercial Cookery student and 3rd year apprentice at Tim’s Surf and Turf restaurant, Ashley Modra said that understanding produce was essential in offering customers quality, healthy food.

“This is a way to provide our customers with fresher, better tasting food, while reducing wastage and costs,” she said.