These Indigenous chefs are leading a culinary movement from Coast to Coast to Coast—and beyond. Get to know their faces and stories, and find out how to get a taste of the action.
Inez Cook from the Nuxalk Nation (Bella Coola) is a culinary connector, Sixties Scoop survivor, world-traveller, and visionary. For the past dozen years, Cook has shepherded this gem of high-level culinary art and dining experience, Salmon ‘n’ Bannock restaurant in downtown Vancouver. She has also brought many Indigenous culinary superstars together when she collaborates with Dine Out Vancouver’s World Chef Exchange.
Get a taste: Through Salmon ‘n’ Bannock restaurant in downtown Vancouver.
Andrew George Jr.
Andrew George Jr. is a member of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia. A forerunner of the Indigenous culinary resurgence, chef George was a member of the first all-Native team at the World Culinary Olympics, in Frankfurt, Germany in 1992, and was the head chef at the Four Host First Nations pavilion, 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. His cookbooks Feast for all Seasons: Traditional Native People’s Cuisines (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010) and Modern Native Feasts: Healthy, Innovative, Sustainable Cuisine (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013) remain current classics of Indigenous culinary approach and technique. Chef George is now an international consultant on Native menus for restaurants and hotels. He also teaches culinary arts to Indigenous students as director of Indigenous initiatives at the Industry Training Authority on the unceded Coast Salish Territory, traditional land of the Musqueam people.
Get a taste: With his cookbooks Feast for all Seasons: Traditional Native People’s Cuisines (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010) and Modern Native Feasts: Healthy, Innovative, Sustainable Cuisine (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013).
Jenni Lessard is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan and secretary of the Indigneous Culinary of Associated Nations. She lives and operates her Inspired By Nature Culinary Consulting business on Treaty 4 Territory in the Qu’Appelle Valley, near Regina, SK. In Lessard’s words, she “is particularly devoted to knowledge seeking and spends time visiting with and harvesting members of the plant nations.” (Lessard is referencing the teachings she has received around plants, animals, birds, fish, and all other beings in nature who are considered relations and relatives.) She then takes that knowledge and the food she forages to create incredible and transformative experiential events at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. These Han Wi Moon Dinners feature all locally sourced and foraged ingredients, and Lessard weaves her menus around traditional storytelling and the significance of Wanuskewin as a gathering place on the Northern Plains for thousands of years. Lessard also mentors Indigenous youth in the kitchen, passing along valuable knowledge, skills, and inspiration for the next generation.
Get a taste: At a Han Wi Moon Dinner at Wanuskewin. Find the 2022 dates here.
Murray McDonald garnered accolades as executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, then as the founding executive chef of Fogo Island Inn, NFLD. Understandably, there was much excitement when he brought his talents to the fine dining restaurant at Spirit Ridge Resort on the traditional land of the Syilx people of the Okanagan Nation. McDonald was not raised with an Indigenous identity, though his great grandmother was Montagnais Indian (Innu) from Southern Labrador. He now has the opportunity to explore Indigenous culinary creativity as executive chef of The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry, located in Osoyoos Band land in Southern B.C.’s picturesque and prestigious wine country.
Get a taste: In Southern B.C. at The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry.
At 21 years young, Siobhan Detkavich walked into Top Chef Canada (Season 9, 2021) as the youngest contestant and the first Indigenous woman on this pressure-cooker TV show. No stranger to stressful situations, Detkavich says she’s been facing “racism, sexism, and all sorts of the -isms” since starting her cooking career at 16. Knowing that she would rise to the challenge, her goal was to represent her Cowichan and Pacific Islander Indigenous roots, pay homage to her ancestry, and inspire other youth to dream big. Regardless, her kitchen credentials—most recently as chef-de-partie at Mission Hill Winery, one of the Okanagan Valley’s top fine dining experiences—speak for themselves. Detkavich now resides in Kelowna, B.C.
Get a taste: Siobhan was the youngest chef—and first Indigenous woman—to compete on Top Chef Canada. This summer, she’ll be working on another television series. Stay updated by following her Instagram.
Paul Natrall is a proud second-generation Indigenous chef from the Squamish Nation in North Vancouver, B.C. Natrall owns and operates Vancouver’s first Indigenous food truck, Mr. Bannock, which won him a 2019 Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Natrall is playful and inventive with his flavours and menus, creating his own Indigenous fusion cuisine. Natrall also focusses his mentorship with youth cooks to support a sustainable food supply, and transferring traditional cooking and preserving techniques through approachable Indigenous culinary experiences.
Brad Lazarenko’s cooking philosophy has always been firmly rooted in place and has been consistently championing and supporting quality local farmers, food artisans, and ingredients since he opened his first Culina restaurant in Edmonton two decades ago. Currently, Lazarenko operates Culina To Go, Culina To Go at the Muttart, Culina on the Lake (at Hawrelak Park), Culina catering, and will be bringing a new version of his much-loved Bibo winebar back in the newly renovated Strathcona Hotel on Edmonton’s Whyte Aveue in 2022. As a proud member of the Metis Nation of Alberta, Indigenous foods are staples on his menus.
Get a taste: Stop in at Culina To Go for Lazarenko’s fabulous rendition of his Three Sisters Salad (a traditional dish featuring beans, corn, and squash with a dill-balsamic dressing with local Edam cheese).
Sheila Flaherty is Inuvialuk and is the founder of sijjakkut, a wholly Inuit owned company based in Iqaluit, Nunavut that preserves and promotes Inuit culture through inuksiutit (Inuit food) menus. Flaherty has shared her menus in events in Iqaluit, Nuuk, New York, Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver. In 2017, Flaherty participated in Season IV, MasterChef Canada, which brought inuksiutit dishes to a wide audience. Flaherty currently is serving as the Nunavut representative of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada.
Get a taste: If you’re in Iqaluit, Nunavut, check out sijjakkut’s Instagram for upcoming events.
Shane Chartrand, of the maskêkosak (Enoch Cree Nation), not only represents one of Canada’s leading chefs, but is also actively involved in the re-emergence of Indigenous cuisine in Canada. He has competed on television’s Chopped Canada (Season 2, episode 9), Iron Chef Canada (Season 1, episode 12), and Fridge Wars (Season Finale, 2020). He is a judge on Food Network Canada’s Wall of Chefs (Season 1). He was also featured in the award-winning documentary series Red Chef Revival. His award-winning cookbook, tawaw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine (Ambrosia / House of Anansi, 2019) garnered a Best in Canada World Gourmand Awards, and then received a Best in World Gourmand World Culinary Awards. The name of the cookbook translates to “welcome; come in; there’s room.” As a high-profile chef in Canada, and Sixties Scoop survivor, chef Chartrand’s work revolves around education and exposure of the strength and beauty of Indigenous food, art, and cultures as a speaker, guest chef, educator, and public figure.
Get a taste: Try his award-winning recipes from tawaw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine
Pei Pei Chei Ow
Pei Pei Chei Ow (pronounced: pe-pe-s-chew) means “robin” in Swampy Cree. It’s also the name given to Scott Jonathan Iserhoff in his childhood by his moshom Louis Shisheesh. Iserhoff now runs his eponymous multi-faceted company in amiskwcîwâskahikan, Treaty 6 territory.
Get a taste: Tuesday through Saturday, Pei Pei Chei Ow’s Indigenous exploration menus are available for breakfast and lunch at Whiskyjack Art House. Private group bookings are available there too. On Saturdays, Iserhoff has a table at the Downtown Farmers’ Market in Edmonton. Catering menus and cooking classes are listed on the company’s website.
Photo courtesy of Quentin Glabus
Quentin Glabus was born in Edmonton, studied culinary arts in Lac La Biche, Alberta, and graduated from the Culinary Arts program at NAIT in Edmonton in 2000. Glabus’ mother is from the Frog Lake Cree First Nations, Treaty 6, but like many of his generation, did not grow up in learning his mother’s language and didn’t learn about Indigenous foodways or history. He had to explore and fill in the gaps through his own education. As a young professional, he spent time climbing the ranks of professional restaurant kitchens in Canada and in the US, before setting off for a globe-trotting cooking career. This included being executive chef at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, then Beijing, (if you wish to use Taipei, then I would write: Canadian Guest Chef Representative for the Canadian Trade Office of Canada in Taipei) and then three years in Rio de Janeiro. During his time as a Canadian Guest Chef Representative for the Consulate General of Canada in Rio de Janeiro and as a Private Caterer, he was the Executive Canadian Chef for Canada Olympic House for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Around the same time, he participated in the World Gourmet Summit, held annually in Singapore. Having been immersed in so many other culinary landscapes, this event was a very high profile opportunity to explore his own roots. “I just went there to turn heads, really. And to bring awareness to contemporary Indigenous cooking, in contrast to the cinematic ideas of “Native American stereotypes’.”
Currently Glabus is living in Tokyo, married to Vivian Hung, diplomat at the Embassy of Canada to Japan. Glabus is the Video Curator for A Gathering Basket Cookbook and member of the I-Collective. This group of Indigenous chefs, activists, herbalists, seed and knowledge keepers, is creating a new and Indigenous-driven culinary, agricultural, social and artistic narrative guided by Indigneous values. Glabus and colleagues, gained significant attention when their I-Collective digital cookbooks series was featured in the New York Times recently.
Get a taste: Purchase issues of A Gathering Basket digital cookbook here.