Sunday, October 21, 2012

NACA Indigenous Food Culture Conference Presenters

We have assembled some of the best Native Indigenous professional talent out there today. We are extremely excited and grateful to be hosting these important presenters from across Indian Country. This blog, Apaches in the Kitchen, details our collective journey and now is beginning to involve the pathway of others. In the beginning we, the culinary staff at Sunrise Park Resort, talked about this. I shared a vision of Culinary Culture Building in our community and how it can affect other communities as well. This culinary events symbolizes how we as Apaches in the Kitchen are making that vision a reality, together.


Claudia Serrato

Claudia Serrato, MA
Bio: Foundress of Sac(RED) (WOMB)yn, Doctoral Student of Medical Anthropology, co-author of Decolonial Food  For Thought blog, alternative Cocinera and Womb Ecologist, and co-president of the Native Organization of Indigenous Scholars (NOIS) at the University of Washington.

Valerie Segrest

Valerie Segrest, Author, Scholar and Nutrition Educator
Bio: Valerie Segrest is a member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and works as a native nutrition educator for the Northwest Indian College’s Traditional Plants Program. She coordinates the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project. She co-authored the book Feeding the People, Feeding the Spirit: Revitalizing Coastal Indian Food Culture.

Chris Rodriguez

Chris Rodriguez, Chef/Scholar
Bio: Chris Rodriguez is a Xicano, professional chef and co-creator of the grassroots community health project Decolonial Food For Thought. He is an independent scholar and political commentator on native and Indigenous food autonomy and sovereignty movements in Mesoamerica.

Lois Ellen Frank

Lois Ellen Frank, Ph.D.
Bio: Lois Ellen Frank is a working Chef at Red Mesa Cuisine, a Native American Catering Company specializing in locally sourced, seasonal Native American foods. She is also a James Beard Award winning cookbook author of Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations. Her work is internationally known and influences a generation of Native Chefs.

Walter Whitewater

Walter Whitewater, Chef/Author
Bio: Walter Whitewater is a working Chef at Red Mesa Cuisine, a Native American Catering Company specializing in locally sourced, seasonal Native American foods. Chef Whitewater is also a James Beard Award winning cookbook co-author of Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations. His work is internationally known and influences an entire generation of Native Chefs.

Kyle Knox

Kyle Knox, Farmer at Natwani Coalition
Bio: Kyle is Hopi and Akimel O’odham (Pima) from the village of Kykotsmovi and is a member of the Coyote clan. Mr. Knox has a BA in Fine Arts and Media Production from ASU and brings his experience as an active Hopi farmer to help shape the future of the Natwani Coalition.

Jason Champagne

Jason Champagne, MA student in Public Health and Dietetics
Bio: Jason Champagne is a member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, a graduate student at University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts program. Jason has three years of experience working for Walt Disney World as a culinary professional. Champagne’s unique combination of the culinary arts and dietetics produce a unique approach to health conscious foods to combat diabetes.

April Adams

April “Bleu” Adams, Owner/Operator at Black Sheep Café
Bio:   April is Navajo, Hidatsa and Mandan descent originally from Provo, Utah.  April started in the food business selling homemade Navajo foods at countless pow wow’s and events over the years. On September 1, 2011 April her husband, family and sister signed a lease for 19 N University in Provo. Utah. This is the location of Black Sheep Café, of which April Adams is owner and operator of this successful independent restaurant. 


Mark Mason

Mark Daniel Mason, Executive Chef of Black Sheep Café
Bio: Mark is Navajo, Hidatsa and Mandan descent originally from Morenci, AZ.  Mark Mason has been cooking since age 8. Chef Mark lists his mother and great grandmother as early influences. Mark has experience working at Marcellino’s Ristorante in Scottsdale, AZ working under the tutelage of Master Chef Marcellino Verzino. Chef Mark Mason is currently the Executive Chef of Black Sheep Café in Provo, Utah.

(Photo of Vanya unavailable)

Vanya Szabo, MS 
Bio: Vanya Szabo is from Bulgaria and currently works as a Program Coordinator with Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health at the Center’s Whiteriver, Arizona office. Her work has focused primarily on implementing Edible School garden curriculum and building a school garden at Cibecue Schools, coordinating Traditional Apache Plants program, helping families start their own gardens and starting the first Farmers Market on White Mountain Apache reservation.

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Andrea Beatty, White Mountain Apache Wild Foods Specialist
Bio: Andrea Beatty is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, born and raised in Cibecue, Arizona. She is currently working with Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health on developing and implementing the Traditional Apache Plants curriculum. She is knowledgeable in indigenous plants and foods, skillful crafter in making cradle boards, coil and burden baskets, water tus, and moccasins. She enjoys gardening and cooking traditional Apache meals.

Loretta Barrett Oden

Loretta Barrett Oden, Chef/TV host/Lecturer
Bio: Loretta owned Native Foods Restaurant called Corn Dance Café in Santa Fe, New Mexico for 10 years. She is the host of the Emmy Award Winning TV series “Seasoned with Spirit, A Native Chef’s Journey.” She has been featured on “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” “In Food Today” and “Cooking Live” and in numerous publications including the New York Times.

Arlie Doxtator

Arlie Doxtator, Oneida Executive Chef of Bear Paw Cafe
Bio: Arlie Doxtator has 27 years of professional culinary experience as a First Nations Chef in Hotel/Casino, independent, private resort and corporate food service. Chef Arlie has been featured in numerous publications including Native People's Magzine. Chef Doxtator specializes in the research and study of the indigenous foods of the Lotinishoni--People of the Long House, and their importance of their existence in the future. 

Nephi Craig

Nephi Craig, Chef/Founder of NACA and Executive Chef
Bio: Nephi Craig is the Chef and Founder of The Native American Culinary Association or NACA. Chef Craig has 14 years of professional experience as a Native Chef. Chef Craig has cooked all over the world in Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Japan specializing in Native American Cuisine. Chef Craig is the creator of the Apaches in the Kitchen blog. Craig currently serves as Executive Chef for the Sunrise Park Resort Hotel on the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

These short biographies do not do these individuals justice. You can do you own independent research and learn more about these individuals. Come and join us at Sunrise Park Resort, on the White Mountain Apache Tribe!

For more information contact 
or call the Sunrise Park Resort Hotel at (928)-735-7669. Space is limited!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kitchen Photographs

The work we have chosen to engage in is satisfying. Cooking on the White Mountain Apache Tribe as a Native Chef is one of the most important moments in my pathway, and hopefully it is just as important for my crew of APACHES IN THE KITCHEN. We push onward, experiencing the growing pains of an evolving kitchen. This is a humble kitchen, yet this kitchen is providing me with some of the most important culinary, cultural and personal experiences of my life as a chef. 

There is so much to write about but I decided to share some photos with you. Enjoy!

Chef's Table Course: Salmon, three sisters, sauce N'Dee

On this day in July, sous chef Vincent Way, line cook Michael Ivans jr, went outside in the forest and picked Wild Lambs Quarters for our menu. They are pictured here picking the leaves and cleaning the plants. 
Chefs picking White Mountain Apache Lambs Quarters

Cedar Planked Salmon. An homage to the Pacific Northwest Salmon People. This method is recognized right away by our staff as a Native Technique. We have had many creative conversations about this technique.

Pictured here are two members of the 'Apaches in the Kitchen'. Lead Line Cook, Nancy James and Kitchen Porter, Noreen Wool. They are preparing a White Mountain Apache favorite, Western Apache Racket Bread. You can see that they are clearly enjoying the practice.

Salmon Roasted and resting on Cedar Planks. Delicious!

Here is Kitchen Porter, Herman Skidmore doing a bit of quality control. Note the sign above the door way.

Apache humor is a constant. You can only understand it by living it. What a life in cuisine we share!

 This is Clayton Harvey, he is the farmer at the People's Farm in Whiteriver. The Peoples Farm is a very important project. This was on a day where I invited him and another farmer Darlene to a "Farmer's Chef Table" in our kitchen. They had an amazing time and enjoyed seeing their food put to use.

 Here is the crew after the Farmers Chef Table. At Sunrise Park Resort, we are in the sacred high mountains. This is an appropriate place for the evolution, study and practice of our form of Native American Cuisine in this era.

This image is of kids from the White Mountain Apache Head Start during a Sledding and Culinary Excursion in 2012. We did a cooking demonstration for them and prepared fresh pasta by hand. They were amazed!

Here the Kitchen Staff gets their first sight and taste of a Pacific Northwest delicacy, A Whole Roasted Salmon Head with herbs. This was also instantly recognized as a very special Native Technique. I explained that it is often reserved for the Elders of a family.

This beautiful dish continues to amaze and evolve. Roasted Marrow Bones with Frybread. What an Apache Delicacy!

This is a amazing dish. Western Apache Acorn Stew with Dumplings, Western Apache Racket Bread and Bone Marrow. This is a spectacular homage to our Apache history. So much history, culture and sense of place is in this beautiful dish. I am positive our ancestors are proud of this one!

Many of these young men have grown and moved into other kitchens with the training received in our kitchen. It has been an honor to work with you all Chefs! Pictured left to right: William Hawkins/Garde Manger, Michael Ivans jr/Apprentice, Vincent Way/sous chef in training, Marques Hinton/Saute Station, Nephi Craig/Exec Chef, Ivoury Thompson/Waitstaff, Sean Johnson/Grill Station, 
Deron Lee aka 'Skip'/Apprentice. 
photo courtesy of the Navajo Times

In this photo a special family friend and photographer, Mr. Bill Hess joined us in the kitchen and preserved an important night for us all. It was a busy dinner service and we had a Chef's Table going in the background. Thank you Bill!

Water is life. It is always an amazing experience to work vigilantly with clarity as a friend.
Exec Chef Nephi Craig on the line.

 This is the humble kitchen where we work day and night. Without people, without our crew, it is just an old empty kitchen.

Come and visit us at Sunrise Park Resort! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

NDEE BIKIYAA or "The People's Farm"

The People's Farm Logo

The People's Farm is in Whiteriver, Arizona in a part of the community we call Canyon Day. It is situated on what used to be a farm that I remember seeing when I was just a kid about the same age as my son or younger. As a chef and community member this farm is indeed something special. We have had the time to develop working relationships with the farmers and I can say that they have the best interests of the people in mind. These farm workers understand the 'cosmological relationship' with our food relatives and with our Mother Earth. Sitting down to a conversation with the farmers is very interesting. They speak of the foods with a special fondness, the nurturing element is heard loud and clear. The way they speak about agriculture is very much like I speak about cooking.

We planted onions in May that we now use in our kitchen.

In this photo (left) as the Farm Manager, Mike Henry, planted onions with us, he told stories that had been passed to him from elders. He spoke of the time before vehicles and tractors to plow fields. He talked about work ethic in the Apache way, that despite the lack of modern equipment, the fields still were plowed and the cattle still tended. The moral of the story that day was that there was no excuse for us to be lazy today, that our elders possessed the tenacity and work ethic then and we have no excuses today.

What a profound story that resounded with me because I tell similar stories in our kitchen. We constantly reinforce Apache values like tenacity, work ethic and working together. I knew from this first day I volunteered at the farm to help plant onions, that this group of people were as passionate and serious about their work as I was about being a Chef. It was a powerful realization to know that and understand what they were talking about, their struggles with social misunderstanding were very similar to ours as Apaches in the Kitchen. 

Historically Apaches have not been "chefs" so to speak but we have been cooking since time immemorial, well this also applies to Apache Agriculture in my opinion. The perception of Apache as farmers in the past may not strike someone as being historically accurate but in reality agriculture has also been a part of our lives and culture since time immemorial. So we push forward with work that we believe is extremely important. I think we recognize that our culture and the entire world suffer from a profound disconnection with the land and where our food comes from and who nurtures it. Food does not just appear, someone in the field has planted, been in the dirt, devoted their time and labor to the care of crops. Someone has cultivated an intimate understanding with the land, wind, water and seasons to bring healthy and fresh food to you and your family. I think the gift of agriculture that it is something that teaches many life lessons, and I have adopted a belief from one of our NACA Indigenous Food Culture Conference presenters that, "Plants and Trees are our first teachers." What a profound statement that speaks to humility and understanding the world in such an interconnected way. They have this mindset in place at The People's Farm in Whiteriver.

This image to the right of the farm staff planting onions was taken months ago. Today, the onions are being sold to the community at a local Farmers Market and now we 'Apaches in the Kitchen' are fortunate to be cooking dishes with their foods. Today the farm has corn about 6 feet tall and sunflowers that tower at similar heights. There are vines filled with scallop squash, patty pans, zucchini and yellow squash. Green beans, chilies, tomatoes, lettuce, melons, potatoes, and asparagus in its first year all are nurtured daily by the staff. I ensured them that we would take care of "their babies" in our kitchen.

In conversations with the farm staff they spoke of "talking to the plants" revisiting them and saying "hello" each day. They poked fun at themselves saying that they never thought they would be talking to plants. "They are really like our babies", one farmer said. That's when I told them that I would make the circle complete by feeding them in our restaurant with their own vegetables. They accepted and came to our kitchen and I treated them to a "Farmers Chef Table" in our kitchen, but first we had to pick our own vegetables.
Ari and Nephi Craig

This is an image (left) taken during the second week of August. My son Ari and I picked vegetables for a filmed pilot project on Native American Cuisine and Apaches in the Kitchen. I was adamant about bringing attention to the farm so we went there. The dialog with the farm staff was great. I had not been back there since I volunteered in May so to see the growth was a treat. I picked some of the same onions I planted. What a treat.

The People's Farm is an amazing place and coming from a Chef's perspective, it is such an honor and blessing to be able to support this farm and in turn they support us. By using the produce from the People's Farm it makes our cooking more unique and I know exactly who is growing our food and where it comes from. Simply knowing that we are cooking at a high level with vegetables grown by Apaches, for Apaches in the sacred soil on the White Mountain Apache Tribe produces a gratifying feeling I have not yet experienced in my pathway as a cook.

The People's Farm Produce ready to be prepared for the Farmer's Chef Table

This is a photo during our "Farmer's Chef Table" in our kitchen after picking our own produce. I'm explaining the dish we created in this photo. 

Meat Course:
Roasted Venison Loin, The People's Farm Smoked Potatoes, Wild Lambs Quarters, Pinons and Sauce Nana.

It was such an honor to be able to host the farmers in our kitchen and cook for them dishes that had evolved over time, dishes that reflected our White Mountain Apache Tribe, culture, heritage while expressing hopes for our collective posterity. We served them 5 courses and I personally invited them back for a much more in depth "Tour of Native America through Cuisine". They gladly accepted and we are excited to host them again.

Happy Farmers Clayton and Darlene with Apaches in the Kitchen Crew after the Farmer's Chef Table on August 10, 2012

Native American Culinary Culture Building 2012


NACA Indigenous Food Culture Conference

The Native American Culinary Association is hosting an Indigenous Food Culture Conference in November. The NACA Planning Group has selected a stellar line up of Native/Indigenous Food Professionals for this unique community oriented conference on The White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona. This will be here at the Sunrise Park Resort Hotel, this site was chosen because of this APACHES IN THE KITCHEN blog, the people that make our restaurant/kitchen what it is and also our readers. Thank you!

Here is a general information flyer. There will be more information coming very soon!

Native American Culinary Culture Building 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Community Culinary Culture Building Workshop 5-18-12

I am pleased to announce our Culinary Culture Building Workshop at the 
Sunrise Park Resort Hotel
DATE: Friday, May 18, 2012
TIME: 9:30 am through 2:30 pm
Price: Sixty Five ($65) dollars per person

Come and support the development of culinary culture and food systems on the White Mountain Apache Tribe!

Executive Chef Nephi Craig
Phone: (928)-735-7669 ext.2288

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Action Oriented Culinary Development and Cultural Understanding

When I cook and utilize age old classical French techniques, I feel connected to Old World. Cooking is an excellent medium to reach into history and bring it to this reality. Roasting veal or chicken bones for demi, for example is an age old technique. The scent of roasting veal bones early in the morning instantly takes me to various parts of my life as a cook learning to be a chef. The smell of roasting veal bones also transports me into history because I imagine how many hundreds of thousands of Chefs throughout history have done the very same thing early in the morning and how the distinct aroma is the same for me as it was for them. Great Chefs like Fernand Point at Le Pyramide who trained other great Chefs like Jean and Peirre Troisgros at Les Freres Troigros in Roanne and Alain Chapel at Mionnay have all utilized these fundamentals that we too, use on a daily basis and more.

"The duty of a good cusinier is to transmit to the next generation everything he has learned and experienced"

Fernand Point, 1897 - 1955

French Chef born Louhans 1897; Master of la grand cuisine and "Father of Novelle Cuisine". Fernand Point was one of the greatest chefs that ever lived. His culinary teaching and mentorship left a legacy of world renowned chefs that carry his torch. They include Paul Bocuse, Alain Chapel, Francois Bise, Louis Outhier, and Jean and Pierre Froisgros. Chef Points leadership and reputation as a young turk helped him establish Restaurant de la Pyramide as an international gastronomic mecca, which he opened at age 26. His restaurant is named after a nearby Roman Pyramid that marked the turn of a chariot racetrack. He is best remembered for his culinary philosophy, the generosity he displayed towards his staff and the public; feeding people more than they'll ever expect and making it a way of life. He was also a very strong believer in the use of regional ingredients of the season.

Thomas Keller (above) was born on Camp Pendelton USMC
One of the worlds best chefs, Thomas Keller (right), of the French Laundry in Yountville CA and Per Se in Manhattan speaks of Fernand Point and refers to his books as a major influence in his life. Thomas Keller has also trained a generation of great chefs and changed the culinary world because of his commitment and generosity just like Point. I have never worked at or even been to the French Laundry but I was fortunate enough to have worked with a chef that spent two years at "the Laundry" and that alone was life changing. It was my introduction to real discipline,  culinary philosophy and the intense desire to relentlessly pursue perfection--even when we all know it doesn't exist.

The French Laundry in Yountville Ca. "Mecca"
The generational impact of cooking and culinary culture from places like The French Laundry and La Pyramide is amazing to me. I realize that I am no Thomas Keller or Fernand Point, not even close, but I do have a sense of foresight that comes from my father. I would like to think that what we do in our humble kitchen here in the White Mountains of Arizona, in the land of my/our ancestors the White Mountain Apaches is something similar. I would like to think it is a beautiful occurrence that sprang up organically and that is pursued by a group of young chefs that can feel the relentless desire to produce great food within our own abilities while honoring those that came before us.

I think the beauty of cuisine is that it reflects a specific culture. It is difficult for an outsider to see, but as the chef working with my crew on a daily basis, I can see the technical ability and strong desire of my crew to learn and get better. I see the growth and how that culinary enlightenment and character translates onto a plate. This photo at the right is of a Chef's Table Course to share, "Bone Marrow and Frybread", a real Native delicacy that is a thing of beauty to us and our families.

I mentioned in a previous blog that in this region (a region that used to be referred to as "Apacheria" and still is by a few), the influence of warfare and conflict is profound. We have, throughout history, encountered the Spanish, Mexican and American Military, not to mention warfare with the Dineh(Navajo) and other tribes in our region. I think these facts make what we do even more beautiful and amazing because our history reads like a tragedy for the amusement and storytelling of millions yet we utilize these elements in the development of a distinctive cuisine--the Apache way of creating something out of nothing.

Culinary Workshop and Sledding Excursion 2-3-12
In our effort to develop Native American Cuisine in this country today, we honor these classical culinary traditions of the Old World while utilizing ancient culinary traditions and schools of thought of the indigenous, namely the White Mountain Apache people. I believe that as White Mountain Apaches we have always possessed a keen foresight and realized the importance of our posterity. This is true even in our cuisine and this photo is evidence of that fact.

Cooking and cuisine are excellent mediums to communicate. By using classical cooking techniques and indigenous culinary ingenuity we create something unique for the professional, something educational the student and something powerful for the most important part of our culture- our posterity. We can, if we choose, affect change from a position of integrity and that, I believe, is the one of the most important elements of cuisine in our world.
Apache Head Start Culinary Demonstration and Tasting 2-3-12