Here Out West Is Getting a Food Series Because Western Sydney Is Delicious

Here Out West Is Getting a Food Series Because Western Sydney Is Delicious
8 Nights Out West (Image: ABC TV)

I’ll let you in on a secret: Western Sydney has the best food. It’s not really a secret to anyone who lives there, and I’ll admit I’m biased because I’m a proud Westie. But the region’s rich cuisine is so special that the ABC is dedicating serious air time to it with 8 Nights Out West.

The eight-part food deco series celebrates Here Out West, the critically-acclaimed feature film that opened the Sydney Film Festival in 2021. The film follows eight interconnected stories set in the melting pot of Western Sydney.

Arka Das, who starred in the film and now heads up the food series, was taken aback by the loving response to Here Out West, especially after the harsh COVID lockdown conditions Western Sydney faced in 2021.

“We opened Sydney Film Festival when COVID restrictions were just ending, it was the first glorious festival back with thousands at the State Theatre, sold out this iconic State Theatre — that was quite surreal, that night was a huge shock to the system for everybody,” Das told Lifehacker Australia.

“I think I was surprised at how many people connected to it. It’s quite a niche film about certain communities in Western Sydney, but the fact that so many people could relate to the characters in so many ways, whether it reminded them of their neighbours, or their mums or their dads, or family friends, or even themselves in so many ways, that was the surprising part.”

While Here Out West was a project close to the hearts of all those involved, there was a clear agenda from the moment they walked into the writers’ room.

“We just didn’t want it to be a pity fuck for Western Sydney,” Das said. “We wanted it to be authentic and feel real and lived in.

“I think sometimes when you’re writing characters from an outside or a community from outside, you can get a bit high and mighty sometimes, or you can write them in a way that just doesn’t feel grounded. So we wanted to avoid all those kind of tropes.”

Here Out West
Here Out West is headed to ABC TV along with a special food series. (Image: ABC)

They were never trying to tell all the stories of Western Sydney — for those not familiar with the area, I can assure you it’s massive and incredibly diverse. So, limiting it to eight stories was always going to be a challenge.

Now, the focus turns to the most delicious part of Western Sydney — the food.

From this Sunday, for eight days leading up to Here Out West, the ABC will air 8 Nights Out West, with each episode focusing on a different cuisine.

“I feel like food is the thing about Western Sydney, it’s got the best food,” Das said.

“People that don’t know Sydney very well, or haven’t spent time in Sydney, or are from outside or international travellers, I guess the foodies go out and find out what’s going on, but if you love food and you’re like ‘I can’t find this’ or ‘I can’t find this in Sydney’, almost anything exists in Western Sydney. Any type of cuisine from anywhere in the world most likely exists in Greater Western Sydney somewhere.

“Still so many mum and dad restaurants, so many family-owned restaurants. Food is an integral part of people who live in Western Sydney, it’s also an integral part of immigrant life, everyone has their own way of making cuisine.”

What’s the ultimate dish for Arka Das? He admits he’s very biased.

“My mum’s cooking is probably my favourite,” he said. “She cooks a lot of things, but my mum cooks a great homestyle chicken curry, or literally just rice and chicken curry, which is very basic but it’s that thing that I can connect to.

“The star dish, that when I crave it I really want it, it’s just a biryani, it’s meat and and rice mixed together. It’s called a kacchi biryani, a Bangladeshi-style biryani.

“This is a very special biryani to my people because they make it on the streets back home, they cook it over 11 hours, it’s slow-cooked with the meat and the rice and the eggs and potatoes, and it used to be cooked for the mogul kings and then over time it became for the people and they would make it for each other.”

Here Out West is on ABCTV and iview on Sunday, August 14, at 8.30 pm, and 8 Nights Out West starts on Sunday, August 7.

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