Chef Clayton Donovan uses natural ingredients found in his own Aussie backyard to create culinary masterpieces.
While crocodiles, snakes and kangaroos may be perceived as unapproachable wild beasts, Australian chef Clayton Donovan envisions them well done and garnished in herbs and homemade ranch sauce, using ingredients picked from the bushland.
For the outback forager, the bush is very much his backyard. Clayton spares nothing. If it is edible, it will be eaten.
Today, Clayton remains one of only a handful of chefs in Australia who preserves the true “outback spirit” in his culinary creations.
He is currently the host of his own cooking show, Wild Kitchen, which is aired on Australia’s ABC TV, and formerly had a restaurant, The Jaaning Tree in Nambucca Heads, New South Wales. Clayton now focuses on pop-up restaurants around Australia.
He was recently in Oman to recreate his culinary masterpieces for more than 90 guests at the Grand Hyatt Muscat hotel, in association with the Australian Business Group Oman. During his short trip, Clayton says he stumbled upon bushes and shrubs that reminded him of those he knows from home.
“Improvising is all about throwing to the table whatever is available,” the chef says. “And in native Australian cuisine, we use ingredients such as herbs, bush tomatoes, lemon myrtle, anise, native pepper and cucumber among various others to get flavour.”
He’s currently working with native mint cucumber to smoke various meats such as lamb and beef to achieve various intensities in flavour.
The chef also incorporates native pepper – a purple-coloured bell ground to powder – for seasoning and known to possess health benefits.
For desserts, Clayton suggests the use of caramelised sweet bush tomatoes as a substitute for caramel that could, for example, accompany chocolate puddings. He also recommends a white chocolate substitute of dried seaweed, berries and oil.
His barbecued kangaroo makes use of lemon myrtle and ground pepper for seasoning to achieve an “Aussie campfire flavour”.
For the beignets
Carrot and Fennel reduction
Balsamic and wattleseed reduction
Davidson plum syrup