Indigenous knowledge and culture is important to Darwin-based 13 Squadron chef, Leading Aircraftman David Skeen, who grew up in the small towns of Yalgoo and Halls Creek in Western Australia hearing the stories of his Indigenous heritage and ancestors around a campfire.
CAPTION: Leading Aircraftman David Skeen, 13 Squadron chef, prepares food in the kitchen of the officers mess at RAAF Base Darwin in the Northern Territory. Story by Flight Lieutenant Greg Hinks. Photo by Sergeant Pete Gammie.
“I am a Yamatji/Noongar man from my mother’s side of the family, a Bardi/Jawi man from my father’s side of the family, and a Jaru/Gurandji man from my grandmother’s family,” Leading Aircraftman Skeen said.
“My Elders have always been there for me and this year’s theme really hit home, showcasing how important our Elders are in the community, teaching us about our culture and history so it is ingrained in us and future generations.”
Joining the Air Force in 2019, Leading Aircraftman Skeen hoped to find a career that challenged himself and allowed him the opportunity to be a role model for his community.
Being an Air Force chef has ticked all those boxes.
“I wanted to challenge myself mentally, physically and creatively,” Leading Aircraftman Skeen said.
“Joining the RAAF is something I always wanted to do since being in school.
“I also wanted to be a role model for my younger siblings, and have the opportunity to travel while working in different environments around Australia and the world.”
In his work, he marries his twin passions for food and heritage. Leading Aircraftman Skeen has been known to incorporate Indigenous food into the menu of special events while also catering for daily meals at RAAF Base Darwin.
“On a daily basis I could be in charge of running breakfast, lunch and dinner, developing nutritious daily menus, preparing main meals and different varieties of salads and sweets,” Leading Aircraftman Skeen said.
“I have also been fortunate enough to support the 2023 Avalon International Air Show, COVID Assist and VIP events and functions, a highlight being able to add traditional Indigenous food into the menu.”