From foraging classes to restaurant hidden gems to must-visit markets, Indigenous food experts share their recommendations.
Joseph Shawana educator and chef
“I will be re-opening my restaurant, Ku-Kum Kitchen, in my home community of Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island. It will be relaunching as a casual-dining experience using Indigenous ingredients, flavour and storytelling.
I’ve also helped Wikwemikong Tourism with its Indigenous culinary guide program. I’ve trained the guides in the best plants that guests can forage for, which they can then take back to the kitchen and cook up into a meal – anything from baked white fish wrapped in wild plantain and stuffed with wild garlic to hot stone-seared venison loin with wild mushrooms. You can also spend the day fishing with Wass Tours, and what you catch you can cook on the shoreline. There’s a lot happening in the culinary world on my home island!”
Aicha Smith-Belghaba chef
“On my reserve [Six Nations of the Grand River], there’s a restaurant called Yawékon which is run by Tawnya Brant. She does the same type of stuff as me, where we’re ‘Indigenizing’ foods you may normally see. Her food is good. Like, her menu for today is Squash Alfredo Vegetarian Lasagna, Bison French Onion Soup, Beef Birria Tacos…
I’m actually going to be opening a restaurant on the reserve next year. We want to do casual fine dining that uses Indigenous ingredients while reconceptualizing what Indigenous foods look like. I’m also half Algerian, so one of the dishes I’ll be doing is a grilled venison chop seasoned with North African spices; so it’s Middle Eastern but it’s also from here as well.”
Trina Mather-Simard executive and artistic director, Indigenous Experiences
“Some of the things I love most about what we’re doing at Madahòkì Farm [a newly launched agritourism initiative] are our seasonal festivals. In June, we have our Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival. We have three unique Indigenous meals prepared by our chefs, which you can order across Canada. We’re doing a barbecue box with homemade burgers, sausages, game meat and wild rice salad, a curried caribou meal and one more we’re still finalizing.
We also welcome guests to the farm. We have a marketplace, where we’re focusing on Indigenous food products. We carry Indigenous-harvested syrup and honey, as well as corn soup and bannock in a bag that you can take home and make. We’ve also just added some cool corn cobs that you can microwave to make popcorn.”
Leni Brem director of operations at Indigenous Tourism Ontario
“One of my favourite local food experiences is Pow Wow Cafe in [Toronto’s] Kensington Market, which has a great vibe and lots of great stores and food. Chef Shawn Adler uses locally sourced ingredients to make Pow Wow cuisine like Pow Wow-style tacos, [which use Indigenous fry bread as a base for a range of meat and veggie toppings]. I also love the sodas he makes, which include a Sweetgrass and a Cedar flavour. They are delicious, unique and refreshing!”
Billy Alexander director of programs at the Culinary Tourism Alliance
“I always love the Indigenous summer solstice. It’s the epitome of being able to learn about our Indigenous culture – our art, our music, our crafts, our dance, our food, our ceremonies. There’s a misconception that our Indigenous Pow Wows are just for us, but I would recommend that anybody take in a Pow Wow experience if they can. It’s the best way to experience our culture in its entirety. There are so many different Pow Wows, especially with things opening back up for the first time in three years all throughout Ontario. They’re often very well publicized. We love when non-Indigenous people come and experience our culture in its full capacity.”
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