The Dairy Road precinct will host a Food Cultures Symposium as part of its month-long Terrestrial Urbanism program.
The event aims to celebrate Canberra’s thriving local food industry and build connections between producers, chefs, businesses and researchers.
The Dairy Road precinct has previously been a light-industrial area but was rezoned in 2021 to allow for an expansion of commercial, residential, creative and cultural activity.
Over the past year Molonglo, the group that owns the precinct, has been working on plans to transform the area and has released them for the first time during Terrestrial Urbanism.
Molonglo’s head of public programs Alexis Kalagas said the group hoped the schedule of events would foster conversations around the future vision for the site.
“Terrestrial Urbanism is an opportunity to explore a range of themes that we see as being central to the future of Dairy Road,” he told Region.
“Dairy Road is already home to a growing community of food-related businesses. We’re really keen to think about the future of the food industry in Canberra and how Dairy Road can continue to provide opportunities to incubate new ideas and support local, independent operators … particularly businesses that are interested in working collaboratively to reduce waste and prototype more circular approaches.”
The free food cultures symposium is being hosted in partnership with Capital Brewing Co and will be held in its courtyard on Monday evening.
Three panel discussions will explore issues around sustainability, the post-pandemic hospitality industry, and our social relationship with food. The panel discussions will be followed by a ticketed dinner cooked by Onzieme owner and chef Louis Couttoupes.
The first panel will be moderated by Capital’s sustainability director Dan Watters and will include Fiona Buining from Ainslie Urban Farm, and Dr Bethany Turner, an academic from the University of Canberra who has particular expertise in local food systems. Michael Brewer, chief of staff at waste management business and Canberra startup Goterra, will also be on the panel.
The second panel will feature Canberra hospitality professionals like Louis Couttoupes, Dash Rumble from Pilot and Max Walker of Paranormal Wines to discuss how the pandemic has impacted the food scene in Canberra with ABC radio presenter and local foodie Emma Bickley.
Andrew Duong from Miss Van’s, Venus Vinifera founder Caitlin Baker and cultural and medical anthropologist Dr Trang X Ta from ANU will make up the third panel, moderated by Region Media food writer Lucy Ridge (yours truly).
“Food is part of our everyday lives – we need it to survive. But it also has a political and a cultural dimension,” Mr Kalagas said.
”With the final panel, the idea is to explore what our relationship with food means when we draw out the link between personal and collective experiences.
“And within that, how issues like representation and diversity of voices or perspectives in the food world are important.”
Chef Mr Couttoupes will be continuing the themes of sustainability and circularity in his dinner, which will be cooked over a wood fire in the Capital Brewing Co courtyard. The intimate meal will be served as sharing plates and will include a few unusual ingredients.
“I don’t know how the readers are going to take this but I’ve been given some grubs that Goterra produces for human consumption!” he told Region.
“They’re super-high-protein, future-food-type things so we’ll incorporate those into the menu somewhere, which should be fun.”
More sustainable ingredients will be used in the dessert: a playful take on brown-bread ice cream using spent brewers’ grains from Capital. Other produce will be sourced from farms that receive Goterra compost, or will be foraged from the grounds of Dairy Road.
“Everything’s going to be served on biodegradable products to minimise the footprint overall and that will be sent back to those composting farms to end up in the soil,” said Mr Couttoupes.
Mr Kalagas said that while the symposium was open to everyone interested in food, the event had intentionally been scheduled on a Monday so that hospitality workers could attend.
“We understand how demanding an industry it can be to work in – we’re hoping that Food Cultures will be an occasion for those who have contributed so much to the transformation in Canberra’s food scene to enjoy a moment to stop and reflect,” he said.
“We’re particularly interested in building connections between producers, chefs, food-related businesses and a wider community in Canberra that’s interested in a more sustainable, fairer and more responsible food system moving forward.”
The Food Cultures Symposium is on 14 November from 4 pm to 7:30 pm at Capital Brewing Co, 1 Dairy Road, Canberra. Register for free tickets here.
Limited tickets are available for the dinner, which will take place immediately after the symposium.
Terrestrial Urbanism is running a program of events until 4 December. Find out more on the Dairy Road website.