Rayleen Brown’s story is a story of humble beginnings, hard work and passion. Born in Darwin. Travelling up and down the Territory with her parents and siblings to follow the work. From Wave Hill to Adelaide River to Leanyer to Humpty Doo. Learning all the while.
Her passion for cooking and food came from both her mother and father who were both very good cooks. Growing up she was always helping her mother with the cooking. Her father’s marinades were heavenly. Fortunately her father hand-wrote all his recipes to be passed on to his kin.
Rayleen’s first catering job was for 100 Warlpiri women at a big meeting at Laramba to support Indigenous teachers. Rayleen cooked for 1 week with just one other person. After the meeting, which was a success, the old women thanked the two cooks for their beautiful food and suggested they should start a cooking business. And so Kungkas Can Cook was born. Her next catering job – her first professional job was for 1000 people at the Yeperenye Festival. They didn’t even own a knife or fork or plates to serve the food on. That was 17 years ago.
Rayleen Brown and Kungkas Can Cook are known throughout Australia and many parts of the world where Central Australian bush foods are increasingly receiving due recognition as unique, speciality, gourmet and delicious.
Rayleen’s insistence on using only wild harvest bush tucker sourced directly from the women who gather the food, as a way to support livelihoods and the continuation of connection to story and country, is well known and respected. Rayleen is on the national Bush Foods Board to help raise the profile of bush foods, opportunities for people on country using bush foods and wants better protection for the ecological knowledge rights of people to the food that has sustained their communities for thousands of years.