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Pawa Café and Bar opens at Hamer Hall

[by Suzanne Robson]


Image: Jake Roden

Gunditjmara and Yuin culinary entrepreneur Niyoka Bundle (pictured) and head chef husband Vincent Manning from the Isle of Man, have opened Pawa Café and Bar at Hamer Hall on Southbank Promenade. Arts Centre Melbourne welcomes the new permanent offering from the Pawa Catering team who join neighbouring restaurants Saké and Teatro.

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

During the day Pawa will operate as a café with a menu that includes lilly pilly Danishes, muntrie berry pain aux chocolat, strawberry gum brownie and native grazing boards, featuring red wine kangaroo salami and native cheese. Then at night will convert into a bar where visitors can enjoy a selection of share-style food options and drinks including their Taka Gin, a native lemongrass and lemon scented gum leaf alongside cocktails from Home Grown and The Everleigh Bottling Co. as well as an all Australian wine list.

"It is a very exciting time for us, our first café and bar where we can share native flavours that some may have never tried before. It is such a beautiful spot, overlooking the river in one of  Melbourne’s most iconic buildings," said Niyoka Bundle.

Bundle said she was inspired by experiences camping with family, hunting and eating kangaroo, emu, goanna and red belly black snakes combined with cooking her grandma’s handwritten recipes for comfort food including spaghetti bolognaise, quiches, lemon meringue pie and hedgehog slice.

"I’ve always been obsessed with food and cooking. I would cook for my grandpa following my grandma’s recipes and carry around a book/folder of recipes. I also loved watching chef Iain Hewitson on TV,’’ Bundle said.

The culinary entrepreneur says she is determined to showcase the incredible flavours of native ingredients through Australian fare. She learnt to use native ingredients by combining Western cooking with native plants and foods. Together with her husband, Head Chef Vincent Manning she created a menu which fused the two.

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

Arts Centre Melbourne Head of Customer Experience Design Blake Oliver said Arts Centre Melbourne was thrilled to welcome Niyoka and Vincent to Hamer Hall.

"Visitors to Arts Centre Melbourne and Southbank are looking for unique, exciting and delicious food and beverages and the Pawa team will provide exactly that,’’ said Oliver.


Pawa Catering, who recently partnered with Arts Centre Melbourne to provide a catering option across its venues, is dedicated to providing a sustainable and environmentally friendly product and place of employment for Aboriginal communities.


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