Tastes Of Tropics Is Ready To Serve Audiences

Behind the scenes on Tastes of the Tropics: Family & Friends with chef Davy O'Rourke
Image: Behind the scenes on Tastes of the Tropics: Family & Friends with chef Davy O’Rourke

With Screen Queensland hungry for local North Queensland stories, the fruits of the agency’s Tastes of the Tropics are set to tantalise taste buds when the series debuts on SBS Food this week.

Premiering on Wednesday 20 March at 8:00pm, the three-part series will see local presenters share and celebrate a smorgasbord of stories about passionate farmers, innovative chefs and local providores from North and Far North Queensland.

Tastes of the Tropics is part of Screen Queensland’s North Queensland Regional Program, delivered by Screenworks, in association with SBS and supported by Cutting Edge.

The talent development initiative for emerging and mid-career screen practitioners supported selected participants Ewan Cutler, Tamera Simpson, Shontell Ketchell and Glenn Saggers (Pandamonium Films), Alvaro del Campo, Nick Lorentzen and Davy O’Rourke (QC Video), and Maura Mancini, Kim Knox and Alison George. The three groups each received $28,000 to create an episode for the Tastes of the Tropics series, taking viewers on a unique culinary adventure across tropical North Queensland.

The productions teams were mentored by independent Supervising Producer Karen Warner (MasterChef and Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook Melbourne), whose extensive industry experience bolstered the production capabilities of the practitioners, who were supported from script to final edit picture lock by Screenworks.

Tastes of the Tropics launches this week on SBS Food with episode one Tastes of the Tropics: Troppo Kitchen premiering on Wednesday 20 March, episode two Tastes of the Tropics: Iconic FNQ on Wednesday 27 March and the final episode Tastes of the Tropics: Family & Friends on Wednesday 3 April.

Dr Belinda Burns, Screen Queensland’s Chief Creative Officer said the Tastes of the Tropics initiative has been a strategic upskilling endeavour for the agency, serving to expand local industry capacity in North and Far North Queensland as the Screen Queensland Studios, Cairns facility nears completion.

“Screen Queensland is committed to fostering authentic Queensland stories from across the state by bolstering the experience of our regional practitioners and we are proud to have commissioned Tastes of the Tropics as part of our North Queensland Regional Program,” Dr Burns said.

“As well as providing audiences with a fresh perspective on the cuisine culture inherent to the region, the participants have gained invaluable practical knowledge throughout the production process, elevating the skill sets they can apply to future screen projects.

Screenworks CEO, Lisa O’Meara is looking forward to the impact the release of this series will have on the careers of the participants and the benefits this will bring for the local community.

“The filmmakers in this program were given the opportunity to learn from some of Australia’s best screen industry practitioners and this will enhance their careers. These unique stories which have been told by some impressive local talent are so important to the history and culture of the North Queensland community and we are honoured to be part of this narrative alongside Screen Queensland and SBS.”

SBS Head of Entertainment and Food Emily Griggs said “Tastes of the Tropics invites audiences on a tantalising exploration of Tropical North Queensland’s dynamic food culture. Local screen producers and practitioners tapped into their local knowledge beautifully introducing viewers to remarkable people, produce, and places.

“It has been wonderful to work with the teams from Screen Queensland and Screenworks to produce these three episodes. SBS are proud to support such a great initiative, empowering local talent to craft a delightful celebration of the region.”

With the development of the $12.6 million Screen Queensland Studios, Cairns facility nearing completion, there are now more opportunities for North and Far North Queensland locals to develop their careers in the region.

Episode guide

Tastes of the Tropics: Troppo Kitchen follows acclaimed chef Nick Holloway on an adventure across Far North Queensland, where he seeks out ingredients for a tropical feast. On his journey, he meets the locals and hears their diverse stories, which showcase the vibrant taste, culture and people of the region, before creating a dish with the produce he has gathered.

Tastes of the Tropics: Iconic FNQ is an immersive journey through the vibrant food scene of Far North Queensland and its community. Guided by the knowledgeable First Nations host Samantha Martin, notable food enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds share their insights into tropical flavours amid breathtaking iconic landscapes, inspiring viewers to visit and savour the local cuisine firsthand.

Tastes of the Tropics: Family and Friends sees Cairns-based chef Davy O’Rourke-a charismatic, classically trained chef specialising in Mexican and South American cuisines-honour the tradition of his country of birth by cooking a Papua New Guinean Mumu, under the guidance of his mother Wawa. Adding a twist of South American flavours, with the help of his restaurant colleagues, Davy serves up a Colombian Merengón cake that uses fresh tropical North Queensland ingredients sourced along the way. Davy creates a feast for the eyes and the taste buds as his family celebrate the arrival of two new members of the O’Rourke family with this very special tradition.

The series will also be available to stream free on SBS On Demand from Wednesday 20 March.

/Public Release. View in full here.