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!