A love of food is bringing Wollongong’s multicultural community together in Crown Street Mall every Thursday night.
The Eat Street markets began in January as a way to bring people into the newly refurbished Wollongong Mall.
Founder Kirily Sinclair said Eat Street was a new way of bringing customers into the heart of Wollongong.
“The main premise was to bring people of the community together and to create a nice atmosphere within the Crown Street Mall,” she said.
“The beautiful thing about markets is that they don’t discriminate and they are not geared towards any one particular demographic, so it makes Eat Street a lot more attractive in that sense.”
What started as a small community get-together of food stalls operators has become a weekly multicultural festival. Eat Street has attracted people from across the Illawarra and Southern Sydney.
“Eat Street has changed itself from a small community food market, to over 30 food stalls showcasing a large variety of different cuisines,” Ms Sinclair said.
“We have cuisines from India, Lebanon, Canada, Vietnam, Chile and even Ethiopia.
“Some of these people come down from Sydney to set up their stalls whilst the rest are local restaurants.”
Samara’s is a Wollongong Lebanese restaurant that is among the many to set up at the Thursday night markets.
Its owner, Omar Nemer, said Eat Street has given residents a sense of the food diversity available in Wollongong.
“Eat Street’s enabled the people of Wollongong to embrace the different cultures that make up our community,” he said.
“It’s good when you see people coming out in thongs and shorts, walking through town and trying food from a different cuisine at a reasonable price.”
Seb Bonenfant and his Le Montreal Shack bring the flavours of his native Quebec to Eat Street.
“I see Eat Street as a great way to promote French-Canadian culture in Wollongong,” he said.
Cheeses and smoked meats blended with traditional Canadian maple syrup are some of the French-Canadian delicacies on offer at Le Montreal Shack.
“Whilst there isn’t a lot of French-Canadians in Wollongong, there are a lot of open-minded people who are willing to trying new things, which is really good to see,” Mr Bonenfant said.
“The large crowds, the live music and the overall ambience within the mall makes Eat Street the perfect setting for not just myself, but people of other nationalities as well to showcase their cultures to the wider community.”