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National Native American Heritage Month- Some Chefs You Should Know About

by | Nov 2, 2021 | Blog Post |

During November, we celebrate #NationalNativeAmericanHeritageMonth. Over the course of the month, we take the time to celebrate the culture, accomplishments, and contributions of people who were the first inhabitants of the United States. We decided to highlight a few Indigenous chefs to kick off the month. 

Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota

Chef Sherman is one the most world-renowned indiginous chefs today. He founded The Sioux Chef in 2014, an organization committed to revitalizing and sharing Native American Cuisine from Alaska, to North America, and Mexico through culinary and culture education. Chef Sherman is a James Beard award winning chef, and has opened a restaurant in Minneapolis called Owami. Chef Sherman and his team aim to reintegrate Native American cuisine into modern American culture through projects like the Indigenous Food Lab. To check out some of Shermans recipes, you can find his cookbook here: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/the-sioux-chef

Hillel Echo-Hawk, Pawnee and Athabaskan

Chef Hillel Echo-Hawk if the founder and chef of Birch Basket catering business. Chef Echo-Hawk provides catering and private chef services, with menu’s consisting of pre-colonial, Indigenous ingredients, paired with both traditional and modern techniques, and the stories of the people and the land that the food tells. Hillel focuses on restoring and protecting indigenous foodways. She is also a proud member of the I-Collective, a group of indgeneous chefs, activists, herbalists, seed, and knowledge keepers. 

Kristina Stanley, Red Cliff Lake Superior Chippewa

Pastry chef and food activist Kristina Stanley based in Madison, WI is a member of the Lake Superior Chippewa tribe where she runs both Abaaso Foods, a plant-based food company, as well as Brown Rice and Honey, a wholesale and catering company. Chef Stanley’s mission is to “share a rich tribal history through food,” where at Abasso Foods she focuses on producing healthful foods through tribally sourced ingredients. Stanley is has also worked with I-Collective, the Intertribal Agricultural Council and the Slow Food Turtle Island Association on matters such as indgenenous food sovereignty and tribally sourced ingredients.  

Brian Yazzie, Diné 

Chef Yazzie was born in Dennehotso, Arizona which is located on the Northeastern part of the Navajo Nation. He focuses on bringing together local indigenous ingredients from the streams, rivers, and forests to revitalize healthy indigenous cuisine. He combines ancestral knowledge with modern techniques. To read more check out his website, https://www.yazziethechef.com/.

Rich Francis, Tetlit Gwich’in and Tuscarora Nations

Chef Rich Francis was the first indigenous chef to place on Top Chef Canada, and has been a vocal advocate for protecting indigenous hunting practices in Ontario. He has spoken out against government regulations that restrict the hunting of wild game that have been vital to local tribes’ cuisine for centuries, mainly narwhal, moose, beluga, and sea lion. Chef Francis acknowledges the Indigenous trauma associated with food, especially in northern Canada where food prices are expensive. Chef Francis’s goal is to “pull back that veil of colonialism and try to find the positives and carve out our culinary identity.”

Do you have some Indigenous dishes that you want to try or share? If so, tell us about it in our ProStart Virtual Lounge or add a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #MadeInProStart. 

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