A hunger for all things local and authentic might make Indigenous and Indigenous-inspired cuisine one of the hottest food trends of the year. Here are a few ways to explore Canada’s original cuisine (visit indigenouscuisine.ca for more).
Keep on trucking: Vancouver chef Paul Natrall — better known as Mr. Bannock for his well-recognized food truck — has a new app through which he sells bannock mix, merch and his famous bannock tacos and burgers.
Pivot to win it: Feast Café Bistro in Winnipeg created a smart grab-and-go market of family-friendly meals like bison chili or shepherd’s pie plus saskatoon-berry chicken and a wild-rice side. Vancouver’s Salmon n’ Bannock sends out its elk stew n’ bannock and smoked salmon burger via Uber Eats.
Yup, syrup: Ziibaakdakaan Maple, owned by the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, is located in a venerable Indigenous sugar bush spot on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. Produced using traditional methods and knowledge shared by elders (wood-fired with sustainably harvested timber), the syrup has received multiple awards.
Beyond bannock: Chef Shane Chartrand, a competitor on Chopped Canada and Iron Chef Canada, released the cookbook Tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine (2019). The culmination of 10 years learning about his own personal history and that of many other First Nations peoples, his book also reflects a culinary lineage going back much farther.
Wine nation: Joining Nk’Mip Cellars and Indigenous World in B.C.’s Okanagan, Essex County now has Ontario’s first Indigenous- owned winery — Three Fires by the Caldwell First Nation. Chef Bill Alexander (of Little Chief restaurant in Calgary’s Grey Eagle Resort & Casino) is planning a winery/eatery (the largest Indigenous restaurant in the world) near Leamington.
Decolonizing, and delicious: Chef Rich Francis of Six Nations, a finalist on Top Chef Canada, is a culinary presence in Ontario, promoting food sovereignty, community health and Indigenous knowledge on social media through his restaurant, Seventh Fire, and, most recently, via workshops on Zoom.
Gastronomie autochtone: Niva Sioui and Steeve Wadohandik Gros-Louis’s restaurant, Sagamité, has been sharing Huron-Wendat culinary traditions in Quebec since 1999, including a Three Sisters soup of squash, corn and red beans in a game broth. At Wigwam catering, chef Maxime Lizotte of the Maliseet of Viger First Nation purveys food boxes with items like homemade ravioli garnished with Matane shrimps and seaberries.
Fire & salmon: An experience at Red Bank Lodge, on Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq land, adjacent to the Miramachi River in New Brunswick, starts with guided fly fishing and ends with a meal of traditional dishes. At Eskasoni Cultural Journeys in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, teachings about Mi’kmaq culture might be accompanied with a Four Cents Cake, pan-fried over an open fire.
—Charlene Rooke and Nora Rosenthal
Photo Credit: (Real Local) Indigenous Tourism Canada. (Buffalo striploin) David Schonberger. (The Three Sisters) Jonathan Bélanger, Vidéom production