4 April 2024

Queer Food dishes up Canberra's LGBTQIA+ history in a most delicious way

| Lucy Ridge
Andy holds Queer Food products outside a cafe

Queer Food founder Andy de Groot. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Queer Food is a new Canberra catering and retail food business from chef Andy de Groot that aims to tell stories and do good in the community while sharing delicious food.

Andy always had an interest in food, but it wasn’t until after he’d completed his law degree that he realised his passion was in hospitality. He qualified at the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne and worked under award-winning Torres Strait Islander chef Norni Bero at Mabu Mabu.

“I was really inspired by how Norni has used her food to support Indigenous Australians and showcase Indigenous foods,” he told Region.

“So I started to think about how I could use food as a way to make space to support other queer people in the hospitality industry.”

And so Queer Food was born! Andy wanted to use the platform to tell previously hidden stories of queer people, so he worked with University of Melbourne academic Graham Willet and spent months digging through the Trove archives at the National Library.

Andy and Graham hold a catering box with Queer Food logo

Andy de Groot shares a catering box with researcher Graham Willet. Photo: Supplied.

He’s now developed a menu of canapes inspired by queer and gender-diverse Canberrans, and a series of catering boxes that commemorate important events in Australia’s queer history.

“Everyone I’ve contacted has been super supportive. So many of the dishes have been developed in collaboration with the people I wanted to showcase.”

There’s a mini democracy sausage for Chief Minister Andrew Barr, a green and gold skewer for trans sportswoman Hannah Mouncey and a vegetarian tofu slider for trans activist Corey Trenbath. Each dish is served with a card telling the story of the person who inspired it.

Two bottles of sauce and a jar of dukkah with rainbow Queer Food branded labels

Queer Food has retail products available on their website or at the Canberra Food Co-op. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

When working to create a canape for local drag performer Mad B (who has also been an important mentor for young queer people), Andy developed a tuna, mango and taro dish that paid tribute to their home in Far North Queensland. Mad B was also the inspiration for a native dukkah which is one of Queer Food’s first retail products.

Andy is still waiting for his food truck to be finished before he can take on regular catering gigs, but he’s got two sauces and the dukkah available for sale on the Queer Food website and at the Canberra Food Co-op.

READ ALSO Cut through the chaos and try these signature dishes at Tiger Lane

To get the business underway, he received an ACT Government grant which will help him to achieve the second goal of his business: to give opportunities and support to queer people in the hospitality industry. He’ll employ casual staff and run on-the-job training to give LGBTQIA+ folks a head start in their cooking journeys.

Andy wearing chef whites in a commercial kitchen.

Andy de Groot trained as a chef in Melbourne before moving to Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

Andy is also launching monthly Beers for Queers events at Cafe Stepping Stone in Dickson, starting on 26 April. These evening events will allow the community to catch up and connect in an inclusive and accessible space.

“Once you get a bunch of queer people together, they’re going to do awesome things!”

Andy is also committed to giving back to the broader queer community: $1 from each item sold goes into a fund to help trans people access medical care, and he’s hoping to support many different queer initiatives in the future.

READ ALSO Local, seasonal food is on the menu at Scrumpers Kitchen, Bungendore

It’s still early days for Queer Food, but there’s already lots of community support, and a bright future ahead. Andy said that he’s used to “hiding in the kitchen”, so getting his story out there has been a real learning experience.

“It’s quite different for me to be putting my identity at the forefront of what I’m doing. But I’m excited to see where I can take Queer Food.”

Find out more about Queer Food on Instagram or their website. Beers for Queers will be held on the last Friday of each month, starting 26 April at 6 pm at Cafe Stepping Stone, 8 Hawdon Place, Dickson.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

Weekly Wrap

Canberra is renowned for its restaurants, bars, arts and culture. If you want to know what's going on in and around the nation's capital, sign up for our weekly newsletter and have all the best of the Canberra community delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.