Bringing traditional Aboriginal food to new levels and teaching this to others is part of what Chef Rich Francis is doing through his cookbook and television show that stopped Jan. 15 at the Nipsis Cafe. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Top chef brings new style to Maskwacis

Top Chef Canada competitor showcases Nipsis Cafe, indigenous cuisine in new documentary

One of Canada’s top chefs was in Maskwacis to showcase a new way to look at Indigenous food plus help Indigenous people revive familiar traditions.

Rich Francis — who ended up third in the Top Chef Canada reality cooking television show in 2014 and comes from Six Nations, Ont. — was at the Nipsis Cafe on Jan. 15 to film the second of a six-part television documentary called Red Chef Revival.

The show, set for release some time in 2018, is something Francis hopes will demonstrate modernized Indigenous cuisine from across the country, while also salvaging recipes and foods that are being lost.

“It’s a concept me and Black Rhino Creative (a B.C. film production firm) put together while doing a production for Aboriginal Tourism B.C.,” he said while cooking a special dinner for the episode with Nipsis Cafe owners Matthew and Kevin Crane.

“It’s a look at reviving the traditional recipes, products and stuff around the food from the area and rediscovering it. But in order to reinvent something, you have to rediscover it, so that’s what we are doing right now.

“It’s also about pulling stories together by going to the people and getting their stores — some good, some not so good — with a positive focus on the food, using it as a vehicle to healing, to reconciling, to moving forward. It’s also so we can take a look at issues like obesity, diabetes and different food systems in schools.”

Francis noted that bannock, stew and powwows are among the first thoughts that come to mind when one speaks about Indigenous food. His hope is to change that colonial way of thinking and reveal the true traditional foods, then make something new.

“I want to revive some of the stuff that was taken away from us. Can we give it some new life, use it to reconcile, to create something brand new?” he asked, adding the menu for the dinner included a wild rice moose nose ragù style dish.

“The Indigenous kitchen is unique and these dishes (here) I’ve never done before. I’m just tapping into what’s available.”

And the shoot is also a chance for Francis to impart some his knowledge on the Nipsis Cafe cooks and owners Matthew and Kevin Crane, who are eating up everything Francis can show them.

“They can’t fathom what is going on, it’s blowing their minds. But the building blocks are there, they are making the connections and you can see the enthusiasm,” he said.

“There is something in them that recognizes it, even though they’ve never seen it before. They’ve only even seen moose nose prepped in a fire, but now they are pressure cooking it. That’s reconciliation, that’s food pathways, that’s their food DNA.”

For Francis, the show is just another step in his culinary journey. He has started a catering firm focusing on indigenous cuisine in Saskatoon, will be releasing a cookbook later this year and is hoping to open his first restaurant — also in Saskatoon — some time soon.

“I’m a native guy that just went for it. I have a lot of gratitude for the Top Chef franchise as it really helped put Indigenous cuisine on a level it had never been,” he stated.

“But now we’re finding our culinary identity and more about ourselves, though there is so much more attached to indigenous cooking and that’s the message I hope will take off.”

 

The Nipsis Cafe, along with owners Kevin and Matthew Crane, will be part of a six-piece documentary television show by Chef Rich Francis called Red Chef Revival, set to air sometime in 2018. The show was taped Jan. 15 to go along with a special dinner. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Just Posted

Fundraiser a test of endurance and fitness

Ponoka gym setting up to participate in worldwide fitness event

Alberta Justice Minister advocates UCP rural crime plan

Expanded property rights, more power to peace officers, demonetizing scrap mental part of UCP plan

Wolf Creek Public Schools appoints new facilities manager

Kevin Henderson to take over after Len Landry’s retirement

Ponoka UFA celebrates grand opening

New farm and ranch supply store is larger, has new features

Four Maskwacis residents charged with 38 crimes Nov. 9

Maskwacis RCMP: four arrested following armed robbery, pursuit and home invasion

Premier vows to fight for oilpatch as drillers forecast almost no growth in 2020

The CAODC said it expects the Canadian drilling rig fleet to continue to shrink

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh meets Trudeau to discuss throne speech

Top ask was the immediate creation of a national universal Pharmacare program

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

PHOTOS: Ponoka Legion’s Remembrance Day ceremony

Guest speaker Ron Labrie recounts moving story of fallen Ponoka airman

Small group of Cherry fans protest his firing at Rogers HQ

One sign at the Toronto rally: ‘Rogers cancels Don, we cancel Rogers’

Ideas for Alberta independence would increase costs, Nenshi says

Province has formed panel to examine how to get what a ‘fairer deal’ from Confederation

UPDATED: Alexandra Lewis has been located

UPDATED: Alexandra Lewis has been located, safe and well. ORIGINAL STORY: Ponoka… Continue reading

Alberta harvest a ‘growing crisis’: MP Blaine Calkins

Alberta Conservative MP’s resolve to assist farmers struggling with harvest

Most Read