Saturday, November 23, 2013

NACA's 2013 Indigenous Food Symposium: Celebrating People, Land and Food


The Native American Culinary Association, Tohono O'odham Community Action and the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum are proud to present and bring the following symposium presenters to Tucson, Arizona for this unique indigenous food culture event. 

Register online here:

NACA Symposium Presenters

Arlie Doxtator, Oneida Executive Chef
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 Magazine, Chef’s Magazine and the Green Bay Press Gazette. 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. Chef Doxtator specializes in Indigenous Culinary Linguistics developing and promoting Indigenous foodways on a national, inter-generational and community level for wellness throughout Native America. 

Bleu Adams, Owner/Operator at Black Sheep Café
Owner, Black Sheep Cafe, Blue Pablano, Board Member of Local First Provo: Member, Native American Culinary Association (NACA), SLC Kitchen Collective
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 Daniel Mason. ”I am Hidatsa/Mandan and Dine'. I started cooking at the age age of 8. My earliest culinary memories are from waking in my Great Grandmothers hogan to the smell and tastes of coffee, bacon and blue corn mush. I have lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico and fell in love with the chiles, flavors and bold cuisine of the southwest. I self-trained throughout the 90's in French and Italian cooking techniques. I continued my training in restaurant kitchens of the American southwest region in Scottsdale Arizona. In Scottsdale I trained in the kitchen of Marcellino Ristorante under master chef Marcellino Verzino. I am currently Chef/ partner of Black Sheep Cafe and Blue Pablano Taqueria in Provo, Utah. At Black Sheep Cafe we offer cuisine inspired by not only the southwest but all North America utilizing corn, squashes, beans to rabbit, quail, venison and bison. We offer frybread in desserts and tacos with slow braised pork and beef under scratch made salsa verde and roja!”

Claudia Serrato, MA 
Bio: Offering critical Indigenous critiques and perspectives while engaging a decolonizing approach, doctoral student of sociocultural anthropology, Claudia Serrato, creates a space to explore and re-member Indigenous food cosmologies through sensory and memory work, while addressing Indigenous health and health outcomes. Her most recent project weaves Indigenous and queer knowledge's with womb ecology as a decolonizing practice centered around Indigenous gastronomy and healing. As a community chef, Claudia prepares meals for cultural gatherings, facilitates cooking workshops, and speaks on cultural nutrition as practice of accountability to all of our relations. She can be found at

Neftalí Durán was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico, but it wasn’t until he moved to a close knit Mexican community in West Los Angeles in 1997 that he began to understand the importance of Oaxacan culture and its infinite gastronomy. After working in restaurant kitchens in LA for 7 years, Neftali moved to Western Massachusetts to learn the craft of baking bread in a wood-fired oven. Since 2003, he has been running El Jardin Bakery, an artisanal bread bakery and cafe in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. After years of living on the East Coast, Nef has dedicated himself to researching all aspects of Oaxacan culture and cuisine. When he’s not busy sourcing the best Mexican ingredients available in New England, you can find Nef baking bread in a wood-fired oven, roasting whole animals in a fire pit, or catering elaborate meals. His work has been featured on and on Man Fire Food on The Cooking Channel.

Valerie Segrest is a native nutrition educator who specializes in local and traditional foods. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University in 2009 and a Masters Degree in Environment and Community from Antioch University. As an enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, she serves her community as the coordinator of the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project and also works for the Northwest Indian College’s Traditional Plants Program as a nutrition educator. In 2010, she co-authored the book “Feeding the People, Feeding the Spirit: Revitalizing Northwest Coastal Indian Food Culture”. She is a fellow for the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy. Valerie hopes to inspire and enlighten others about the importance of a nutrient-dense diet through a simple, common sense approach to eating.

Ofelia Zepeda (Tohono O'odham) AILDI director, is a Regents' professor of linguistics and affiliate faculty in American Indian Studies and Language, Reading and Culture at the University of Arizona. She teaches Tohono O'odham language courses and survey courses on American Indian languages. Her research areas include language variation, language policy, and issues of endangered languages. She has published numerous articles in these areas. She is also author of The Tohono O'odham Grammar and of two books of poetry, much of it written in the O'odham language.  Dr. Zepeda is also the recipient of a MacArthur fellowship for her work on Indigenous languages. She has served on numerous boards and is currently a trustee of the Tohono O'odham Community College. Dr. Zepeda has been involved in AILDI practically since its inception as an instructor and founding co-director. Her breadth of experience in the field of language revitalization continues to guide the institution.

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. 

Samantha Antone, Tewa/Hopi from the Village of Tewa in First Mesa. Samantha is the Program Manager of the   Natwani Coalition serving as a facilitator for the planning, organizing, and implementation of community-based and culturally relevant agricultural initiatives. She is also the content developer for the Hopi Natwani for Youth Project (HNYP) farming curriculum. 

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, 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.

Jandi Hernandez is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.  Jandi is of the Dishchiidn clan, born for Nakaiye'. She is the Co-Founder and CEO of Western Apache Center for Food & Agriculture (WACFA) and works to educate adults and children about restorative indigenous practices, wellness, and capacity building.  Jandi is currently     serving as a board member for First Things First White Mountain Apache Regional Council and holds a Firestarter certification through the White Bison Wellbriety Movement.  She helps to develop and facilitate wellness programs with traditional Apache curriculum for Apache Behavioral Health Services (ABHS) in Whiteriver and First Things First San Carlos Apache Parenting Program.

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.

Chef Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota Sioux, born in Pine Ridge, SD, has been cooking in MN, SD & MT for the last 25 years. He is currently the Executive Chef of Common Roots Cafe and Catering in Minneapolis, MN which features local and organic foods and an organic urban garden. Chef Sherman’s main culinary focus has been the “pre-reservation” indigenous knowledge of wild foods. His studies have taken him to the Crow tribes of the Bighorn and Beartooth Mountain Ranges in Wyoming and Montana, the Sioux plains in the Dakotas, the Ojibwe forests and lakes throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Chef Sherman has been readying his own concept of Modern & Traditional Native American Foods of these Northern Tribes to bring to the public by opening his vision of indigenous foods in the form of a restaurant, learning center and meeting grounds in MN by early Fall of 2014.

Seth Pilsk, is a Botanist, and has worked for the San Carlos Apache Tribe’s Department of Forest Resources for over twenty years.  He has worked directly with elders from the Arizona Apache tribes on a number of cultural preservation projects focused on the traditional Apache relationship with the natural world.

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. Nephi Craig is also the co-founder and CEO of The Western Apache Center for Food and Agriculture or WACFA, a not-for-profit organization dedicated the protection of land, food, people and water rights in Western Apacheria. Executive Chef Craig, lends his international experience, vision and expertise in Restorative Indigenous Culinary Practices to the development of WACFA in order to empower local communities through indigenous food and agriculture. Craig currently serves as Executive Chef for the Sunrise Park Resort Hotel on the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

                               Register Today!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

NACA Executive Chef and Founder, Nephi Craig

Executive Chef Nephi Craig Bio
Exec. Chef Nephi Craig
Nephi Craig is an enrolled member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Craig is also half Navajo on his late-father’s side. Chef Craig is also the chef and founder of The Native American Culinary Association (NACA) is an organization/network that is dedicated to the research, refinement, and development of Native American Cuisine. NACA has been developed to provide authentic, quality representation of Native Peoples in professional cookery. The Native American Culinary Association also serves as a networking tool for professional Native Chefs and emerging culinary talent. Chef and NACA Founder Nephi Craig provides training, workshops and lecture sessions on Native American Cuisine to schools, restaurants and tribal entities from across America and abroad. A highlight of his work with NACA is when Nephi was able to help prepare a Native American themed menu for the renowned James Beard Foundation at the James Beard House in New York City. This was Craig’s second James Beard Dinner in two years.

NACA Chef Nephi Craig has served as head chef for four international tasting dinners.
These culinary events were held in London, UK; Cologne, Germany; and Osaka, Japan. Chef Craig has also served as head chef in Sao Paulo, Brazil working for the United States
Consulate and Senac College providing training, workshops, and various tasting dinners
showcasing Native American Cuisine during the Shared Indigenous Heritage Festival
in April 2007.

Nephi Craig is also the co-founder and CEO of The Western Apache Center for Food and Agriculture or WACFA, a not-for-profit organization dedicated the protection of land, food, people and water rights in Western Apacheria. Executive Chef Craig, lends his international experience, vision and expertise in Restorative Indigenous Culinary Practices to the development of WACFA in order to empower local communities through indigenous food and agriculture.

Craig is also a published author. Craig has written pieces for the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. and the Center for American Indian Elderly. Craig writes about the current state and evolution of Native American culinary traditions affected by hunting, fishing and agricultural rights, as well as United States and Indian relations in Native American History.

Chef Nephi Craig is currently the Executive Chef at the Sunrise Park Resort Hotel on the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Silver and Turquoise Ball" at Talking Stick Resort April 13, 2013

Our Apaches in the Kitchen crew are assisting in a large fundraiser called "The Silver and Turquoise Ball" which benefits the Phoenix Indian Center. This event is on April 13 at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. I developed the menu and our crew will aid in the event production. This event is expected to draw 450 people and we have developed the four course menu to reflect our Apaches in the Kitchen crew as well as Indigenous Foods of the Americas. Stay tuned for images.

Here is a clip promoting the event.

Here is a link to the event website

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Indigenous Culinary Culture Building 2013

This is the first post since the NACA Indigenous Food Culture Conference that we held in November. The event went well. We are now two months into the 2012-2013 Winter Ski Season at Sunrise Park Resort. Our entire crew experienced a tremendous amount of growth this year. Together we have won our first award at a Chef's Competition in Phoenix AZ. 
AIGA Chef's Competition 11/13/12 First Place Winning Crew: Left to Right: Exec Director Valerie Spicer, Vina Reidhead, Chef Nephi Craig, Vincent Way, Juwon Hendricks, Nancy James and AIGA Chair Timothy Hinton

We have traveled to New Mexico to cook for 250 people for a wedding. We have trained an entire new staff of young and committed chefs in training. Vincent Way aka Vinny, is now working as a sous chef in training on the saute station and producing consistent dishes for the restaurant and our Chef's Table. Every year this kitchen is like a training ground for cooks. We process them in, they learn to cook and see some amazing interpretations of Native American Cuisine. Hopefully they choose to stay with us through out the year and into next season.

NACA Conference: Left to right: Chris Rodriguez, Valerie Segrest, Vincent Way, Nephi Craig, Walter Whitewater, Lois Ellen Frank, Arlie Doxtator, Jason Champagne

Native Chefs Feeding the Apache Community: Vincent Way,
Walter Whitewater, Arlie Doxtator, Mark Mason, Jason Champagne, Nephi Craig,
As the Chef of Apaches in the Kitchen, I am excited about the future. We have done some amazing work in developing Native American Cuisine and community building. The NACA Conference was an amazing way to meet and see other Native Chefs. Post NACA Conference, Vinny, went to stage at Black Sheep Cafe with Chef Mark Mason and he returned recharged and ready to start the season. He brought back a wealth of experiences and has grown as a result. One of our NACA Scholars is now employed with us as a line cook and doing great! We are working on a Gastronomy Program in Character Building by Activating Ancestral Knowledge in food and agriculture. 

Gathering River Stones at the bottom
of the Salt River Canyon: Ari Carter Craig /Nephi Craig

We have plans to visit Kyle Knox with the Natwani Coalition in Hopi for their planting season. We also plan to work more with The People's Farm and they have been gracious enough to ask us what we want them to grow for our restaurant! We have launched a foraging program where we scout for and obtain wild foods, this will run into the summer. We have also made long treks into various parts of the White Mountain Apache  Reservation to locate objects to act as serving vessels for our Chef's Table this season. The land has power and we are "borrowing" that to showcase and present our interpretations of Native American Cuisine that is being produced in the high mountains on the White Mountain Apache Tribe. 

First Course: Chefs Table, Capturing time and place

At the conference I mentioned to those in attendance that we were holding a coccus in a very appropriate place, the high mountains. Since time immemorial Native Peoples have gone to the mountains for guidance, prayer and council...that is exactly what we did for the NACA Conference in an attempt to revitalize our sacred cosmological relationship with our plant and animal relatives. This work will continue.

The land has memory. The land holds lessons. This image at the left is of our "Apache Trail Mix" as served on the Chef's Table, a first course. The white stone it is served on is from Cibecue at Salt Creek. The juice in the shot glass is "Apache Cool-Aid" or a beverage made from sumac berries. The print out is an intro sheet on NANA for whom will appear later in the procession of dishes as Sauce Nana. We are fortunate to be in our ancestral land.

Sunrise Park Resort: White Mountain Apache Tribe 2013


We continue to work and be the change we want to see in our community. Indigenous Food and Agriculture continue to teach us lessons while our sacred mountains bring the winds, snow and people for us to feed as Apaches in the Kitchen. 
Stay tuned!