GALLERY: Native ingredients spice up Cumberland High School's classes

Bush peppers, paper bark and wattle seeds have found a place on the menu at Cumberland High School.

Indigenous students at the Carlingford school have learnt to prepare meals using the native ingredients and will serve them to Aboriginal elders when they visit the school next term.

Hospitality teacher Michael Pillay said this included fish seasoned with lemon myrtle and bush peppers wrapped in paper bark.

"Aboriginal cooking in modern Australian cuisine is very popular now," he said.

"Quandong, which is peach, and fresh bush tomatoes are used a lot in cooking kangaroo and emu, and you tend to get a fusion."

Originally from London, Mr Pillay was head chef at the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar and catered for the Sydney Olympic Games and The University of Western Sydney before becoming a teacher.

He said discipline and presentation were a part of cooking that benefited the students.

"I'm quite strict, but the kids seem to respect that ," he said.

"You never present really nice food and serve it looking bad.

"We won't accept that, and that quality and determination to do well rubs off."

Aboriginal education co-ordinator Kiera East said the number of students who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander had grown from six to 21 since the beginning of the year, when activities such as the cooking classes, tutoring, university programs in engineering and meetings with Aboriginal elders in Redfern were offered.

"The numbers have gone up dramatically because they've seen what programs we have to offer now," she said.

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