Nathan Lovett has recently joined the National Indigenous Culinary Institute as their CEO, working to place more Indigenous Australians in restaurants via apprenticeships, on-the-job-training and mentorships. We had a chat about his career so far, and what he’s been cooking in the kitchen.

Hi Nathan! It’s so great to have you as part of The Australian Superfood Co’s Chef’s Hub. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Nathan Lovett, I am a Yuin man from the NSW South Coast. I am deeply passionate about food and its connection to our culture, our land and our lore. As the CEO of the National Indigenous Culinary Institute, I have the privilege of seeing the incredible skills of our chefs first hand. It’s so inspiring to see our people creating exceptional cuisine; it really motivates me to be better in the kitchen at home. I love spending time on the weekends trying new cooking techniques, preparing new meals and experimenting with different ingredients.

If you weren’t a chef, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d probably still be running the Indigenous Careers Programs at Westpac. It was a job I thoroughly enjoyed and was able to promote hundreds of employment opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders around the country. But, the opportunity to join an organisation like the NICI only comes around once in a lifetime, so naturally I jumped at the chance.

Tell us about one of your career highlights.
After working in a variety of Indigenous programs for the past 12 years, mostly centred around education and employment, I have started to come across young people I worked with 10 years ago who are now out in the workforce. I recently ran into a former student who was working in a job at a university in Sydney; to see that this student had followed the pathway that I had helped to create, completed her degree and was now working to achieve the same thing that I had set out to do with creating this position and starting the program, was certainly a highlight and something that I’m very proud of.

There’s a lot of great produce in the market at the moment. Tell us what you’re loving.
Through our organisation, we get to work with so many great suppliers and get to sample a whole range of incredible produce.
Mr Wagyu Beef, which is an Aboriginal owned business, has some of the best beef available direct to consumers at the moment; this wasn’t available prior to COVID as their produce was always for restaurants or international distribution. If you’re in their delivery area, I strongly recommend giving the eye fillet a try!

What’s your favourite native Australian bush food to cook with and why?
I really love using Old Man Saltbush. It’s really easy to cook with, it’s incredibly versatile, and gives a unique taste to anything you use it with. When I’m baking up vegies, I always give them a good sprinkle of saltbush, which completely changes the taste. It’s amazing with roast pumpkin.

What’s something our readers might find interesting about you?
I’m a father of three, with twin four-year-olds who absolutely love being in the kitchen and learning how to cook! I think they might be more interested in the dessert side of things though, especially anything to do with chocolate!

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