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

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.”

Canada Top ChefCelebrity ChefIndigenous CuisineMaskwacis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

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

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

(File photo)
After several years in limbo, Parkland Manor to be torn down

Rimoka Housing Foundation has received funding and approval for the demolition

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Ponoka youth fills backpacks for less fortunate

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County, donated 20 backpacks he filled with necessities

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta long-term care residents remain priority in looming slowdown of COVID vaccine

There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

A conveyor belt transports coal at the Westmoreland Coal Co.’s Sheerness mine near Hanna, Alta., on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Coal mining impacts are already occurring in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry’s presence in one of the province’s most beloved landscapes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
As Alberta debates coal mining, industry already affecting once-protected Rockies

UCP revoked a policy that had protected eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976

Most Read