What is Aussie cuisine?

Celebrate Australia Day with Aussie cuisine: a fresh, light, vibrant and innovative cuisine; featuring the diversity of Australian inland and coastal produce and reflecting our relaxed outdoor lifestyle.

By Jeremy Ryland


Cuisine is about communities and regions. A cuisine, like culture, cannot be devised or forced upon a region or nation. It is a concept that grows, evolves and develops through time and use-age. It is a part of the people associated with it. It is more often than not, associated with “peasant food” or the food of the working classes – simple, basic, practical, commonly used products of a region. There are National cuisines but these are a collection or an aggregation of foods, styles and cooking methods from the regional cuisines. And more recently we have seen the growth of an International cuisine, formed through the globalisation of food from the popular cuisines of the world.


All nations have a national psyche that at times swells with emotion, for example during international sports events. Similarly, there are foods that can be associated with an individual nation, lending the effect of a national cuisine. Pizza and pasta, originating from the southern regions of Italy, are seen as being a product of Italy as a nation. Fast food, particularly the hamburger, fried chicken and hot dogs are national “cuisines” of America, but again exhibit some degree of regional heritage – KFC did originate in Kentucky.


Cuisines evolve and change. Like the cultures they belong to, they are dynamic. For example, the cuisines of Italy are highly regional with differences not only between regions but between towns and even families. By comparison, Australia, who does not have the regional history, exhibits a more global cuisine, borrowing styles, techniques and recipes from around the world. Australia’s cooking is exciting, dynamic and growing – perhaps as a result of not having a cultural history. Australia does not seek to retain a traditional regional character, as does Italy, so is free to experiment and create new fusion recipes.


Globalisation has brought an abundance of foods to the wealthy industrialised nations and it has brought us kitchen table tourism and armchair tourism, linked by the food media to bring exotic delights into our homes and encourage us to put the world on our plates. Globalisation has spread the distinctive parts of many cuisines around the world, products such as pizza which is identified as Italian, sushi identified as Japanese and bratwurst identified as German – “national cuisines”, creating a new global international cuisine. Globalisation brings new foods, new flavours and the experience of other cultures to us. It brings variety and abundance through new products and “out of season” varieties. It permits countries such as Australia to borrow recipes, techniques and ingredients from many other cuisines to create what is often called “fusion” cuisine.


Food and culture are intimately intertwined. When cultures move and resettle as in the case of mass emigration, then cuisine can move too. As the culture adapts to its new environment and mingles with others, so the cuisines evolve and integrate. The result can be a new distinctive cuisine. A nation like Australia, that has multiple cultures can have multiple cuisines, without the traditional regional history.

So, as Australia Day approaches, can we define Aussie cuisine?

Ask anyone for their opinion and you are likely to get answers ranging from “I don’t know” to “I know it when I taste it” and everything in between.


Gault&Millau has sponsored the AussieCuisine Project to explore this question and define the essence of Australian Cuisine.


Over the past four years, we have interviewed chefs and food experts. We have held several forum discussions and researched hundreds of articles and texts on Australian food and culture.


Our food is the food of our pioneers - the original indigenous society, British convicts and colonists, Chinese gold hunters, European refugee migrants, Asian refugee migrants, other displaced migrants and people who just want to be here. Aussie cuisine is a blend of cultures, borrowing styles, techniques and recipes from around the world and adapting them to our regional climates, local produce and varied tastes. Australia’s cooking is exciting, dynamic and growing –  and we have concluded that Australian Cuisine is…


“A fresh, light, vibrant and innovative cuisine; featuring the diversity of Australian inland and coastal produce and reflecting our relaxed outdoor lifestyle.”


On Australia Day, 26 January, we celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. This is a community day. A day to celebrate our diverse cultures and our unique cuisine. So join with your family and friends and celebrate the cultures of our pioneers, including our indigenous society, and enjoy some of the best food in the world. We look forward to encouraging and advancing Australia Fare - Aussie Cuisine!