It’s amazing not only to be back to Australia, a country I have called home in 2008, but see how much the country has transformed and evolved since then.
In 8 years a country with 23 million residents has really changed. Which made me ask myself: how can’t other smaller systems change?
Surprisingly the bit that I’ve found most transformed and renovated is FOOD.
Food in Australia is so innovative in a way that I’ve never seen before. Asian fusion has a complete different meaning here. The Australian food is becoming more and more tasteful and really innovative and vanguardist. Fusions, raw, organic, etc. Australians and outcomers together have been experimenting with everything and the experiments are paying off. The food is delicious and authentic and I think that a new type of cuisine is being born here.
It’s amazing to be here experimenting and eating in first hand this new type of cuisine! It’s the possibility of watching innovation happening in scale and bottom up. And I have to say: there’s no boss here saying that the country should be creating a new type of cuisine. It simply emerged, but it didn’t emerge by chance. It emerged because Australia is living a moment that features all perfect conditions for innovation to emerge, especially in the food sector.
In order to show you that, I have separated 3 reasons in my opinion why is going on an aussie food revolution:
- Growing diversity:
Australia is a country with growing population. The 2011 Census reported that over one in four of Australia’s 22 million people were born overseas. In the last years the majority of the immigrants are Asian and an amazing encounter between East and West is happening while you are reading this article.
Immigration has been causing a lot of controversy here, but the fact is that it is happening and this empowers creativity and innovation in a level that we have never seen before.
- A “Foody” Culture:
Australians love to make, to watch, to talk and of course to eat good food. I remember finding funny that almost all the TV channels could be at the same time showing food TV shows… In 2008 the food showcased was the “traditional” Australian food: Shrimp on the Barbie, steaks, meat pies and of course fish and chips… They’re food lovers and the food culture is huge; it’s embedded in their lives.
- “Going out” culture:
Although Melbourne and Sydney always have an important restaurant and bar scene, it keeps growing more and more. Australians go out to dine a lot because these are moments for not only sharing a good but experiences and stories with family and friends. This habit is connected to what they call here “land of content”. Australia and Australians are pretty much connected to their quality life style and this is a very important part of their lives.
These 3 factors that I believe has led to the emergence of this amazing food scene of Asian fusions and other type of fusions in a level of experimentation with food that we haven’t seen anywhere yet.
This story tells us a few lessons in order to make innovation flourish in big and complex ecosystems and we can take that for any context in any scale. I am going to share the 3 big learnings from an ecosystem that led innovation:
- Diversity matters:
New ideas emerge from new connections. Nothing new will ever come from an old habit or an old way of doing things. That is why connecting with people who are different from you have more innovative potential then connecting with peers that are alike you.
When we have different groups, silos, cultures and ways of thinking encountering each other what can be at first sight a conflict have the chance of blending and become a new and amazing taste. Great ideas are like Asian spices: in combination they give that unexpected punch and make you love Asian food right away.
Also Australia has an intense mix of ethnics happening as we speak. One in every 4 Australians citizens was not born in Australia… The geographical location of Australia makes the country uniquely located right next to Asian and pacific island countries, something that no other occidental country has.
- Innovation comes from authenticity:
The culture of food was already here and wasn’t imposed. The food culture was already shared among people in the ecosystem and that gave authenticity and the strength to emerge.
- The ecosystem must be prepared or pre-exist:
This new cuisine wouldn’t emerge if there were no restaurants around, prepared and educated chefs, restaurateurs, bartenders, waiters and commies. The ecosystem was prepared to receive such innovation and the customers also wanted to try something new. They’re open and curious for trying new stuff. This gives chefs and creators the confidence to endeavour such innovative path. Lastly, money is abundant and can be spend in different experiments.
This is a case where innovation in food purely emerged out of 3 principles of abundance (diversity, food culture/love and a pre-existing and live ecosystem). However, innovation can also emerge from different scenarios, including scarcity. If you want to know how, don’t miss us because I will tell you all about in my next articles.
And if you got curious – and hungry – about the delicious dishes, the photos were taken by my friend photographer and foodie Marina Paronetto (@marinaparonetto) in Melbourne!