A stage for storytelling and culinary experience

By Our Reporter
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Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (CAAP) brought together five storytellers to share the secrets behind the dishes that have proved significant in their lives

The cast includes Chinese Australian cooking legend Elizabeth Chong, writer and media personality Benjamin Law, pre-eminent Korean cooking instructor Heather Jeong, and performing artist Valerie Berry.

In Double Delicious, audiences had the unique opportunity to Iiterally taste the story straight from the Playhouse Theatre stage. Bitter and sweet, each story culminates in an authentic recreation of the storyteller’s chosen dish.

As a child of restaurateurs, storyteller Benjamin Law has spent a much of his life at the intersection of food and family. From his debut novel and television series The Family Law, to his documentary series Waltzing the Dragon, his work orbits around this constant. Double Delicious seems a natural progression.

“One of the things I’ve loved is that despite very few of the storytellers having known each other beforehand, we already feel Iike family. Though I also suspect storytelIing and food—both ancient, primal and human needs—bonds us all very quickly,” he says.

In Double Delicious, Benjamin’s riff on culture and authenticity leads to a topical exploration of identity in Hong Kong. Performance artist Valerie Berry’s story challenges all the stereotypical expectations of the relationship between her Filipina mother and white Australian stepfather living in Ceduna, South Australia from the 1980s.

“It’s a privilege to be able to share your personal stories publicly but a vulnerable place to be in.” says Berry, “I’m excited by this polarity.”

Double Delicious marked an extraordinary theatre debut For Elizabeth Chong, who has recently been honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to hospitality and promotion of Chinese cooking in Australia. Elizabeth shared the story of her rise to celebrity chef stardom, long before the current fascination for 1V food shows, and the surprising origins of one of her most iconic dishes.

The performance was on 20 January at the Geelong Arts Centre.

 

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