HomePeopleIn the kitchen with Shannon Fleming

In the kitchen with Shannon Fleming

A passion for food and hospitality that began early

Shannon Fleming’s kitchen always includes a myriad of local and native ingredients.
From saltbush to mountain pepper and lemon myrtle, subtle flavours of Australia are a hallmark of his cooking style.
It’s a passion that was sparked about a decade ago, working with the late acclaimed chef Jock Zonfrillo, and they’re flavour profiles he would like to see in more kitchens.
Shannon’s passion for food and hospitality began early – he says he always wanted to be a chef – and he started his career right out of school at the end of 1999 at the Stanford Hotels.
It was several years later, while he was working at Penfolds Magill Estate, that he met Jock. He later joined him on a venture to create Restaurant Orana, which, before it closed in 2020, was a multi-award winning, three-hat restaurant at the forefront of cooking with native ingredients.
“The idea behind that was pretty much just to define what an Australian cuisine is,” he says.
“… It’s not really defined and we really wanted to make sure that people knew that you were eating an Australian thing.
“And that was born through paying homage to how ingredients were used and paying respect to the people who knew more about it than us.
“They were custodians of this cuisine and these techniques and these ingredients and we wanted to make sure they were respected.”With the endless striving to transform Orana into the best restaurant in Australia came physical and emotional stress and in 2017 Shannon left the fine dining world and moved to the Adelaide Hills.
“We just needed to get away and I didn’t work for probably three months,” he says.
“I just sort of got settled into Hills life and haven’t really turned back since.”
After taking a few months, he began catering events in the Adelaide Hills and catering and consulting company Forgotten Seasons was born.


The name is inspired by the calendars of First Nations people, which include more than just the four seasons in the Western calendar, and through Forgotten Seasons he also worked with Something Wild, an Indigenous-owned food and beverage company that specialises in supplying Indigenous food.
Now the general manager and executive chef at Lot.100 and Mismatch Brewing, Shannon’s catering company has taken a back seat. But his passion for native and local ingredients has followed him like a continuous thread through each career move. Through the menu at Lot.100 patrons are introduced to subtle indigenous flavours.
“It continues to be my passion, continues to be the things I always fight for,” he says.
“It’s not ever thrown in your face, but it’s little elements – making sure the gin and tonic’s garnished with a lemon myrtle leaf, making sure that when things are in season, they’re fresh.
“It doesn’t necessarily jump out at you on the menu, but it’s an underlying theme of everything we do.”
Including local flavours in his menus is an integral part of Shannon’s broader desire to see indigenous ingredients become more widely accepted in kitchens around the country.
While access to indigenous ingredients can be a barrier for everyday home cooks, there are several ingredients that can be a good starting place.
Mountain pepper, he says, can be used to replace regular pepper (and, along with lemon myrtle, is great with braised lamb!), while wattle seed can be added to breads, scones or praline or sprinkled on icecream. He says saltbush can be used fresh, dried or fried, while karkalla, a juicy, salty kind of pigface found abundantly in coastal areas, can be pickled or turned into kimchi.


He believes the key to wider acceptance of indigenous ingredients is education and that chefs can play an integral role in that education through their food decisions.
Without greater awareness about the uses and benefits of indigenous foods, he fears the demand won’t be there to drive research needed to make these ingredients more readily accessible.
“It’s a really slow process because we have an established food industry and food supply industry, but we’re then trying to re-introduce these ingredients that, let’s face it, were here in the first place,” he says.
“… There’s a whole lot of research to be done, and people are doing that and some people are doing some really, really good things.
“It’s just a slow process and money and funding is all way more expensive than it was, so the demand needs to be there.
“If we don’t increase the demand, they’ll never do it.
“That’s why we’re trying to slowly, slowly, slowly introduce it to more people, so more people recognise it and then more people want it and the demand’s there.
“Ideally, you should be able to walk into Tony and Marks and buy some karkalla or lemon myrtle fresh.”
And as for why it’s so important to embrace the bounty this land offers … he believes it’s all about heritage.
“It’s our way of having a food identity and being proud of it,” he says.
“A lot of countries have their own cuisine and they’re proud of it.
“European countries are fiercely proud about what they do and they protect their own recipes and their own way of doing things for future generations and I think we can do the same.
“We haven’t lost it.
“We just need to make sure that more people are aware of it and want to do it.”

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