Weekly Bite: April 24, 2023

From May 13-March 21  A Taste of Kakadu, will be spread across Kakadu National Park and is the first indigenous food and culture festival of the Top End. Some of the highlights of this festival are a Kakadu native botanicals non-alcoholic drink-making workshop including the native peach, An-marabula,  in a new bellini, cooking classes using native foods, a talk about the wild harvesting of the Kakadu mandudjmi plum, which is known for their high vitamin C content, a food-themed art exhibition with local artists, and much more. Read the full article here for more details.

Weekly Bite: April 17, 2023

I have written a bite about Chef Sean Sherman before, and I am sure this will not be the last time I mention him and his work. Congratulations Chef on being named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world! A member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe Chef Sherman is a leader in and advocate of indigenous foodways. He is also the founder of the North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems NĀTIFS and the restaurant Owamni in Minneapolis, MN. You can read the full story here

Weekly Bite: April 10, 2023

Indigenous foods and cuisine are diverse, delicious, and nutritious. Some of the most common dishes you can make at home are Three Sisters Soup, Traditional or Desert-Style Bannock, Title, and Bannock Fish/Meat Tacos. To get the recipes directly from an individual of the Maliseet First Nation click here.

Weekly Bite: March 31, 2023

I just love cafes.  The Arts Centre Melbourne has a new cafe started by Niyoka Bundle, a Gunditjmara woman, and her chef husband Vincent Manning. Items on the menu are a little different than what you may see on an NYC or Paris cafe menu.  Items such as charcuterie and cheese boards with kangaroo salami and smoked gum cheddar and Spirits that include homemade Taka gin with native lemongrass, and lemon-scented gum are just some of what makes Pawa Cafe differ from other traditional cafes.  Pawa Cafe (pawa meaning “to cook” in the language of the Gunditjmara), presents basic dishes with a “native twist” such as danishes made with tart lilly pilly berries, quandong croissants, strawberry gum pain au chocolat. My mouth is watering just writing and then reading this.  Read the full story here.

Weekly Bite: March 24, 2023

The SFU Food sector of Simon Fraser University’s Burnabay British Columbia Campus announces that it will be launching a new brand today Friday, March 24th called The Rooted Program focusing on indigenous flavors, cuisine, and ingredients. It is created in collaboration with Chef Steph Baryluk. Dishes such as Maple Glazed Trout Salad, Duck Taco with Charred Corn Salsa,  and Bannock Donut Holes with Berry Sauce are on the menu.

These dishes and others will be available at SFU’s Dining Commons between 10:30 am and 2 pm and will continue to be available on a regularly rotating menu moving forward. Read the full story here.


Weekly Bite: March 17, 2023

Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion is an annual music and food-infused festival he has been hosting since 2012. This year’s kick-off is supporting three indigenous crops to the native community: maize (corn), squash, and climbing beans (which are tepary beans or common beans). The festival will also be a showcase of indigenous chefs including Brian Light of Ronin Farm and Restaurant, Crystal Wahpepah of Wahpepah’s Kitchen, Brit Reed and Sewa Yuli of I Collective, and Michel Nischan of Wholesome Wave.  All funds raised for the Luck Reunion go to Farm AidThe Texas Food and Wine Alliance, and Wholesome Wave, which is linked above. Read the full story here and click the links to learn more about these organizations.

Weekly Bite: March 10, 2023

Last Wednesday, March 8th was International Women’s Day.

“FAO studies confirm that while women are essential to small-scale agriculture, farm labor, and day-to-day family subsistence, they experience greater difficulty than men in accessing land, credit, as well as productivity-enhancing inputs and services.” – Excerpt from article: Slow Food Women Forge Change in the Food System

This is an issue not to be ignored and only needs to be discussed more in order to move toward actionable change.

Dalí Nolasco Cruz is an indigenous woman from Tlaola Puebla, Mexico, and Slow Food Board Member. She discusses how women around the world are protecting food systems. From Rachel Olajumoke Okeola, a food scientist and gardener from Nigeria to Paula Silveira, a gardener, educator, and psychoanalyst from Argentina, and many, many more women who show again and again their power of nurturing and nourishing. Read more about some of the indigenous women in the world who are the natural guiding hands behind the Slow Food movement.


Weekly Bite: March 3, 2023

One of the forefront Chefs of the indigenous cuisine and food movement is Chef Sean Sherman, owner of Owamni in Minneapolis, MN.  I wrote a “bite” about Chef Sherman on January 27th of this year, which you can read below. Recently he visited Johnson & Wales University, which is actually where I attended college for a couple of years fresh out of high school majoring in Fashion Merchandising. After 2 years, I decided to create my own “gap year” and found my way to my real loves, nutrition, and Pilates. Nevertheless, I have fond memories of JWU, and the food was great!

Chef Sherman spoke of many issues to the students, staff, and faculty at JWU such as the scarcity of indigenous foods and lack of education about indigenous ways of life. Sherman, himself realized how little he knew about his own indigenous foods and recipes. He knew he wanted to create an intentional restaurant, but did not know how to go about doing so. This is where his journey really took off, from a realization and giving himself a twist on the “gap year,” AKA a “break from the demanding pace of the food industry.” Starting with the plate and identifying with the core of what indigenous food really is, is his way of “decolonizing.” It may be a surprise to some of you that the indigenous foods of native regions in the US mean no dairy, cane sugar, or wheat flour. This does not mean these foods are “bad,” and only that they are not native, as we may believe them to be.

Read more here about Chef Sherman’s speech at Johnson & Wales University.

Weekly Bite: February 24, 2023

In San Jose, Costa Rica lives Chef Pablo Bonilla, who has taken on a new culinary role quite different from his standardized culinary training. He had to “unlearn” what he knew in order to embrace and fully engage in indigenous culture. How do they harvest their ingredients? How do they prepare and cook them? What are they? Chef Pablo walked the walk before opening his restaurant Sikwa in San Jose in 2018. He lived with eight different indigenous communities to learn their ways and now serves indigenous cuisine with a modern twist. This came at a cost as the foods did not come with preservatives and are direct from the producer, which sometimes means traveling from the northern border to the southern jungle.

The menu serves up dishes such as eel cooked in banana leaves and roasted plantain ice cream with cocoa, which as an ice cream lover sounds absolutely tantalizing to me. Sikwa is now on the “World’s 50 Best’s list of top 100 restaurants in Latin America and the sixth best in Central America.” Read to learn more here.

Weekly Bite: February 17, 2023

South Africa has a rich history of struggles and oppression, which has unfortunately hidden the richness of its indigenous foods. A western-style approach to food and agriculture clouded out some of the most fantastic growth of native crops and  Chef Zanté Neethling wishes to change this by going back to the roots of South Africa. As Head Chef of Nest Food Bar, she created a dish called the Strandveld Ecosystem. Here is an excerpt from her breaking down the dish:

“Underneath there’s the indigenous pickled cape cob. For the pickle, I used wild garlic, wild rosemary and confetti bos. (The Khoisan wash their hands with that confetti bos to get the fish smell off. It is used as indigenous thyme and has a perfumy taste.) The fish is laid on an indigenous salsa, which is the crunch of the dish. You get your dune spinach for saltiness, apricot for the sweetness, and the spiced spekboom for the lemony acidity at the bottom.”

Is your mouth watering too? Are there foods you do not recognize? Sometimes indigenous foods are rooted so deeply in history that they are forgotten or overlooked, but people like Chef Zanté are helping to put these native foods on the menu. Another thing I love about native foods and travel is that oftentimes that is what makes the place so special. What food does this region of the world have that mine does not? Sometimes foods are the best souvenirs, and if you cannot bring them home then they may be some of the best memories.  If you want to read more about this dish do so here.

Chef Zanté describes Knysna, South Africa as an “indigenous mecca” and is driven by her intrinsic motivation to help the community heal through these indigenous foods and restore what has been wasted via indigenous farms. Her outlook on the future of food? “Cool and exciting!” 

Weekly Bite: February 10, 2023

Deep in the Bolivian Amazon lives the Tsimane tribe. According to a study in The Journals of Gerontology, this tribe has a high load of infections, which increase systemic inflammation. Despite this, they also have presented throughout many years with low levels of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and cognitive decline in relation to their age, with about a 70% slower decrease in brain volume over the course of a lifespan than older adults in the US and Europe.  The Tsimane tribe’s lifestyle includes hunting, gathering, farming, and fishing in the Amazon Basin. Their diet includes foods that are high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fats. The tribe eats seasonally and locally, enjoys complex carbohydrates such as plantains and rice, and is active starting from a young age. Read more here about the Tsimane tribe and learn about some ways you can incorporate their practices or foods into your own daily life.


Weekly Bite: February 3, 2023

In the Arctic, the space between the sea and the serving dish is not much more than a wave away. Inunnguaq Hegelund is an award-winning indigenous chef from Greenland and he is part of a larger food movement to reclaim indigenous food culture. This movement, called the New Arctic Kitchen and celebrates the communities of Arctic Canada, The Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Åland Islands in Finland. The traditional local foods of these lands are much different than what many western cultures may be used to, however, delicacies such as skerpikjøt, from the Faroe islands, which is a dish of air-dried lamb that has a fermented taste similar to blue cheese or favorites such as ringed seal from the Inuit culture are not meant to be controversial foods. For the people of the Arctic lands they are simply a way to express their indigenous food culture and share it, starting with a conversation, without extracting it to the rest of the world. Read more here about the people behind the movement and their passion for doing so.


Weekly Bite: Jan 27, 2023

In Minneapolis, MN “the Sioux Chef,” Sean Sherman feels it is important to reclaim his indigenous foods and share them with the community. One outcome of his mission is Owamni, an indigenous restaurant with views of the Mississippi River. Owanmi opened its doors in 2021 and a year later won the James Beard award for the best new restaurant. While the restaurant is new, the food served has a history dating back to the pre-16th century (the history, not the actual food). You will not find flour, dairy, cane sugar, or pork on the menu. Instead, you will find items such as smoked Lake Superior trout with tepary bean spread accompanied by wojape sauce and tostada, and wild rice porridge (even the “milk” is from wild rice). The Sioux Chef is a remarkable man, who is also the founder of the North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NĀTIFS). Read more about this man, his restaurant, and what he is doing for his community.