Introducing Bush Foods Business, My Dilly Bag

We are very excited to introduce you to the latest addition to the Yarn Marketplace, bush foods company My Dilly Bag. Based on Gubbi Gubbi/ Kabi Kabi land (Sunshine Coast) My Dilly Bag proudly builds awareness of Indigenous culture. They work collaboratively with Aboriginal communities who grow and harvest bush tucker ingredients that form the foundation of their delicious products. The business was founded 20 years ago by Kooma Yuwaalaraay woman Aunty Dale Chapman. Award winning chef Aunty Dale has become known as a pioneer in her field, sharing about First Nations cuisine as a cookbook author, public speaker, television personality and Youtuber.

Last week, we had the exciting opportunity to have a yarn with Aunty Dale about My Dilly Bag’s mission, community work and her future plans for the business.

Aunty Dale Chapman Aunty Dale Chapman. Courtesy of My Dilly Bag, 2022.

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you founded My Dilly Bag.

“So, 21 years ago I found myself not wanting to work for other people in the kitchen anymore and decided that I’d marry together my Indigenous upbringing and my training as a Chef and came up with my company My Dilly Bag.”

What is My Dilly Bag’s mission?

“What we’re trying to do is create more cultural awareness of Aboriginal practices and Aboriginal people. A better understanding of what grows on our beautiful land. We want to create a better connection for non-Indigenous people and visitors through our Country to each and every one of the tribal groups that cover Australia. And recognise them as First Nations leaders, owners of this land, Country men and women. If we all work together, we can achieve a really good bush food industry across Australia and a kinder Nation.”

Assortment of My Dilly Bag products An assortment of My Dilly Bag’s delicious bush food products now available on Yarn. Courtesy of Yarn, 2022.

Does cooking with and sharing native bush foods help you connect to your culture and Country?

“Yeah, it definitely does, you know if you grow it in your backyard or you’re out foraging for it you certainly are connecting to your Country, your culture and your people's wisdom. We go back to basics really; we go back to putting your fingers in the dirt… It's about connecting back to Country and just being able to live life freer, I think. Instead of us all being regimented through all the different shopping centres and green grocers. And there are some green grocers out there doing fabulous things, working with organic growers and local farmers and localising things. And I think that’s where I’ve seen a shift in everything, as people are localising a lot more and identifying what grows in their space and what fresh product they can have.”

My Dilly Bags Pepperberry Fettuccine and Handmade Saffron & Lemon Myrtle Tagliatelle. Courtesy of Yarn, 2022.

What are 3 of your favourite native ingredients to cook with?

“Yeah, look I like them all because different seasons bring different fruit and herbs. For me, I do like wattleseed because it's a product you can get across the nation, it’s one of those beautiful products. I really like the native mint as well, and the native thyme and oregano they’re just delicious. The native ginger and fruits are very effective. You can use it for lots of things, the root itself you can use and the leaves [can be used as] either a plate, a serving dish or instead of foil for throwing things on the BBQ…It's really endless to be honest and for me it’s really about what's in season on that day that I’m going to produce something.” 

Wattleseed My Dilly Bags Roasted and Ground Wattleseed. Courtesy of Yarn, 2022.

Tell us about how you educate and share with your local community through workshops and events. 

“There’s the opportunity here at My Dilly Bag for people to come and enjoy, I guess it's learning about culture and connecting to Indigenous practices through food. It's a very friendly environment, you can ask those silly questions that you might not feel comfortable asking somebody else.

“We run a whole range of different programs from introduction to bush food to how to grow bush food in your backyard…We do a Gubbi Gubbi high tea, everybody really likes that one, and that's about connection to women. We just had one recently and a lot of Indigenous mob from down south in Brisbane Redcliffe way came. Now they’re going to come up again, but we’re also going to involve the local traditional owners here as well the Gubbi Gubbi/ Kabi Kabi people so that they can then start to network and have a really nice environment to talk. And I think that what it's all about too, it’s that food brings people together and evokes all these wonderful childhood memories, and that's when we start to enjoy, connect, understand, and learn from one another.”

You can learn more about My Dilly Bag’s upcoming workshops here.

We’ve heard you also run a number of online classes and educational programs, could you tell us about what you offer?

“I’ve got virtual online classes. There’s a lot of people that wanted to get me to come to school and I did that for a lot of years, but as you get older you can’t be in every school 24/7. So, I’ve got an education video which allows teachers to use a 25-lesson plan, there’s a quiz at the end of it and there’s a crossword puzzle so that you know that everyone is listening. You get all the herbs and spices, and you can really do a wonderful lesson in your classroom, or even as professional development for corporate businesses.

“I’ve also designed 18 cooking videos as well which are online. Because of covid, we had to pivot the business and look at how we were going to connect with the wider community, and the way to do that was through our webinars. People can contact me and arrange for a cooking demo that we will go virtual with for professional development days or community days. And we can design menus and beverages and recipes around that.”

If you’re keen to get involved online you can find My Dilly Bags online classes here, webinars here and education program and lesson plans here.

Aunty Dale Filming Aunty Dale Chapman filming an educational video. Courtesy of My Dilly Bag, 2022.

What are your future plans for My Dilly Bag, and where do you see your business going from here?

“I want to duplicate what my business is and have them in major towns and cities across the nation. So, my plan really is…let's say we take it to New South Wales, and someone wants to have a local business there that would like to take it on. Then they get to showcase their Indigenous artists, their experts in the field, and what they do on their Country. I also have plans for an Indigenous precinct where people can come and learn things in a much more inclusive way, sharing knowledge. I want to export; I want to get into that area as well. And all of my supply chain, all of my Indigenous and non-Indigenous growers can benefit with that reach globally.”

 We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about My Dilly Bag, and the important work they do sharing knowledge about native bush foods and Indigenous culture. You can shop their range of delicious bush food products here