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Part 2 of our International Women's Day celebrations! We visited our dear friend, Nornie Bero, executive chef, CEO and owner of Mabu Mabu restaurant in Fed Square. Read below how to hear how Nornie's Meriam culture fuels concepts for scrumptious dishes and colourful decor! If you haven't been already, make sure you book your dining experience for Mabu Mabu here!
HOD: Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your business?

NB: My name is Nornie Bero. I own Mabu Mabu!
Mabu Mabu means “Help yourself” or “Bon appetite” in the Meriam Mir language of the Mer Island people of the Torres Strait so I’m an island girl through & through. My business focuses around native ingredients & utilising Australian fresh produce.

HOD: How has your cultural background and identity as a First Nations woman influenced your journey as a small business owner?

NB: My identity definitely rules my business. It factors into everything; from naming things, to the beautiful dishes that I grew up with & the Indigenous culinary skills I was taught. But not just that! Also my journey forward in my career as well and how I can bring our natural island food & Indigenous food that we have out there and turn it into something more. To showcase what real modern Australian food will look like for the future.
HOD: Can you share a defining moment in your entrepreneurial journey that shaped the direction of your business?

NB: There was this one moment when one of my staff members, Lily, who is still a part of my team, walked off the street when I was just a market stall in South Melbourne and asked me for a job. That moment changed the way that I thought because at that time I didn’t think I was going to have staff. I just thought I was going to do it all solo. She kicked something off where she helped me thrive to want more and to change people's lives by being able to give them employment. I also had to learn how to become an employer, this knowledge was invaluable and it's one of the reasons why my company was able to expand. That was probably the defining moment for me.

HOD: Beyond business, who or what has been your greatest source of inspiration?

NB: My inspiration has always come from growing up with my Dad and being around my Aunties & Nans. I just recently had these beautiful memories of them sitting around, skinning food & yarning. I fondly remember all the women in my family teaching me what to do with yams and other native ingredients. For me the happiest memories are thinking about how they were ALWAYS yarning and sitting around in the traditional colourful dresses.

I was so fascinated by the invention of what they would do with food. I was always close to them to learn the new dishes that they would create. They’ve always been a big inspiration for me because the women that have come before us have had hard times but they always kept everything together. For me food was always that connected to it because when your belly is full you’re happy.

HOD: Any exciting projects or new ventures on the horizon for your business that you can give us a sneak peek into?

NB: There are always a few up there! Keep and eye out on food television programs. Hopefully we are going to make a difference in communities not just where I’m from but all over Australia. Please watch the space because I might be seeing you guys on TV!

Watch our video feature of Nornie and Mabu Mabu here.