Vancouver will be getting a taste of Indigenous culture through food later this January.
From Jan. 28 to 31, four Indigenous chefs from across the country have been invited to Vancouver to cook their favourite meals as part of The World Chef Exchange 2022 Indigenous Culinary Dinner Series. As part of the Dine Out Vancouver Festival, they will all be cooking at the Salmon ‘n’ Bannock Bistro, Vancouver’s only Indigenous food restaurant.
Inez Cook, the owner of Salmon ‘n’ Bannock Bistro, said she thinks Indigenous cuisine “is still quite unknown to many, and many people don’t understand that there’s 600 nations in Canada and all of us come from different cultures and flavours and traditions.”
Cook said each chef is bringing some of their own ingredients from their respective territories due to some being unavailable in British Columbia, further adding how unique the dishes are that will be cooked at the event.
“It’s really cool that these different chefs are coming here and sharing that with us,” she says, adding that getting four chefs for four nights was also important, as the number four is significant in some Indigenous cultures and teachings.
Joseph Shawana of Odawa will kick off the series, cooking on the first night. Marie-Cecile Cezin Nottaway who is Algonquin Anishnaabe, and Shane Chartrand who is Enoch Cree, will be the next chefs making their dishes over the weekend. Inuvialuk chef Sheila Flaherty will be the final participant to cook at the restaurant.
As to how the event came to be, Cook said it started when Destination Vancouver asked Salmon ‘n’ Bannock Bistro if the restaurant wanted to participate in The World Chef Exchange back in 2020. They did, and this led to hosting an all-Indigenous seafood dinner at the restaurant on Feb. 2 that year, featuring chefs in the province, Shane Chartrand and Maori chef Rewi Spraggon from New Zealand.
With the pandemic still ongoing, Destination Vancouver still wanted to host a World Chef Exchange despite social restrictions and borders being closed to some. Cook then suggested looking across Canada for chefs to bring over this year.
Cook says she hopes people come with open minds, hearts and appetites.
“I think they should be open to what it is and celebrate the land and the waters we live on,” she says. “Each chef is telling their personal story through food, and just being an active listener and an active learner is really important.”
Overall, Cook said that it’s an honour for Salmon ‘n’ Bannock Bistro to host the four chefs from the World Chef Exchange, each bringing their own different flavours from their respective territories.
“Hopefully, the guests can understand that through the plates,” she says, adding that there are “a lot of flavours I’ve never even heard of, so I’m super excited too.”