Renowned celebrity chef Mark Olive has travelled the world but returning home to Wollongong on Wednesday to launch the region's first indigenous pop-up restaurant was "special".
"Even though I travel a lot it is always good to come home and do an exciting project like this," he said.
"It's great also to work with young indigenous kids and hopefully be seen as role model for them."
Black Olive on Harbour Street will blend native bush ingredients, sourced locally, with the region's finest produce to offer foodies a uniquely Australian dining experience.
The pop-up restaurant highlights Olive's desire to promote native foods and Aboriginal tourism within the Illawarra.
The initiative builds on the latest series of his TV show On Country Kitchen which showcases the culinary delights of the South Coast.
Bundjalung man Olive said Black Olive will champion locally sourced produce such as Warrigal greens and roasted wattle seeds.
Indigenous culture will also be celebrated throughout the restaurant through its use of artwork and native plants.
Olive is also training young Indigenous Australians such as Wollongong youngster Blayden Holloway, in aspects of hospitality, sharing his knowledge and skills with the next generation of potential celebrity chefs.
"It's great to be involved in this project," the 21-year-old Holloway said.
"It means a lot. I'm learning about my culture, I'm learning about food that I like to eat.
"I have a real passion for food and want to be a chef. Working with a famous chef like Mark means the world to me.
"I'd love to follow in his footsteps and have a career like him but I know that comes with time and effort."
Olive and sous chef James Harriman are aiming to open the restaurant to the public on Friday and Saturday nights throughout summer and are also happy to cater for functions or special occasions depending on demand.
"Food engages people of all backgrounds and I think Wollongong is going to embrace the opportunity to experience contemporary cooking techniques flavoured with native ingredients," Olive said.
The menu will feature a selection of indigenous platters to be enjoyed among friends, canapes using indigenous flavours and fruits as well as Olive's Australian native collection of ice creams developed for the Connoisseur range.
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