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Following heart leads to nourishing souls

Dianne Bortoletto -

Blak Tapas in Kununurra in Western Australia's northwest started almost by accident. Temali Howard followed the grazing table social media trend, creating beautiful displays of food. She quickly discovered a talent and liked how happy it made her feel to nourish people with food.

Nurturing people has been at the core of Ms Howard's working life. As a young single mother, Ms Howard's first job was as an education assistant. Extending her role, Ms Howard took disengaged older students under her wing, encouraging them to read to younger students and offering them support.

Her caring nature was soon noticed, and she was encouraged to apply for a job in the justice system. For 16 years, Ms Howard worked in various roles in youth justice, legal education, advocacy, family violence and child protection.

Broome born and Bunbury raised, Ms Howard is a descendant of the Jaru and Kija People in the East Kimberley. She said that it was her 'liyan' that called her back to Broome.

"Liyan is a term that Kimberley people talk about, to me it means 'heart space', like your inner spirit," Ms Howard said.

"In Bunbury, I didn't have a connection to my Aboriginal family, and I had a really strong yearning for those relationships. I knew I had to move to Broome to be close to my extended family if my son and I were to build a relationship with them and reconnect to our culture," she said.

"My grandparents were a part of the Stolen Generation and taken from the East Kimberley region, I feel at home here. When a job offer came up in 2007, I transferred from Broome to Kununurra and have been here ever since."

She resigned from her government job last April to focus full time on her business Blak Tapas.

Blak Tapas is a catering company that aims to give people a heightened experience through food. Incorporating bush foods from the region and beyond, Howard emphasises the nutritional and health benefits found in native foods while fusing it with contemporary flavours.

Exotic tastes such as house-made dukka with boab nut and dried mango, or pistachio and salt bush, slow cooked kangaroo curry, kangaroo samosas, crocodile and lemon myrtle spring rolls, and chocolate wattle seed cake with Ord Valley Hoochery rum caramel are just some of the offerings.

"I love the tapas style, that feeling of sharing food, of community, coming together when you're sharing a meal. It's my favourite way to eat."

From tapas boxes to setting up proposal picnics and magical sunset tasting events during the Ord Valley Muster festival (held annually in May), Ms Howard has big, heart-warming ambitions.

"I have an eight-page business plan that includes lots of social outcomes," the 40-year-old said.

"There's big sense of possibilities and I want to create opportunities for local people, particularly for women.

"I believe that through food, I can help empower women and I'm excited to explore those opportunities as the business grows."

For more information, visit

Blak Tapas. Image: CJ Maddock


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