Nornie Bero is a chef on a mission.

The driving force behind new Yarraville cafe Mabu Mabu, the Torres Strait born chef is intent on making native ingredients a part of our everyday.

The cafe’s name comes from a Torres Strait saying that means ‘help yourself’, reflecting the love and welcome Bero wants to extend through her operation.

Bero said Yarraville’s “village” feel also reflects her notion of food being the perfect way to bring people together in a common language.

“I have always loved this area, it has that village feel to it,” she said.

“We are super-excited about opening here and the interest we have already had.”


Breakfast at Mabu Mabu.

The cafe opening in the former Cobb Lane is not the first step of the Mabu Mabu journey – Bero and her business partner Hugo Lamb have been operating a catering business and a stall at South Melbourne Market.

Bero’s passion for native ingredients such as pepperberry, saltbush and crocodile underpins a menu featuring a wide variety of indigenous herbs, fruits, succulents and spices, all showcased in a range of home made sauces, jams, hot sauces and chutneys.

Growing up as part of the Komet Tribe of the Meriam People of Mer Island in the Torres Strait, these ingredients were simply a natural part of life for Bero.

Moving to Melbourne, she realised how far the country still has to go in opening its eyes to its own home-grown fare.

Bero is now aiming to create a true Australian cuisine by helping people to understand native flavours and to use them in their every-day cooking, aiming to be as seasonal and sustainable as possible.


Nornie Bero at Mabu Mabu.

“We do want to make a difference, we want this indigenous food to be part of people’s everyday cupboard,” she said.

I grew up with all this stuff all around us. Our culture is still very strong there and it’s nice to be able to share part of this culture with everybody.

“Australia has got this great natural resource  – I want it get out of the top-end restaurants and this idea of superfoods and to make it affordable and available to everybody.”

Mabu Mabu opens at at 13 Anderson from 7am Friday, September 20.

Ethically sourced coffee will be available on the opening day for a gold coin donation, with money raised supporting Yappera Children’s Services.