Indigenizing Our Diet: Indigenous Chefs Speak
This global program features Indigenous chefs from around the world in a virtual speaker series on Zoom. Each presentation may be viewed live and all presentations will be available for viewing after they have occurred.
These chefs will speak about traditional foods and the need to revive and strengthen Indigenous diets to eliminate the harmful effects of colonialism on Indigenous health and Indigenous economies. Indigenous diets have been wracked by the destruction of many Indigenous food sources and the imposition of colonial foodstuffs, often laden with sugar and calories and fats. One example is American Indian fry bread, which is little more than flour and lard. Participating chefs will speak about their efforts to reclaim and restore Indigenous diets.
Meet Our Chefs
Six Nations, ON, Canada
Rich Francis is literally on fire in the indigenous culinary world. The chef/owner of The Seventh Fire Hospitality Group has won honors for his approach to native foods and Indigenous ingredients that revitalize food and culture. Chef Francis is the co-producer for a new ground-breaking documentary called Red Chef Revival, a unique travel and food series that will follow Chef Francis on a cross-country journey to redefine Indigenous cuisine, create a better understanding of pre-colonial Indigenous food systems, and address truth and reconciliation through Indigenous foods and the impact of colonization. His restaurant, a first of its kind destination, The Seventh Fire, opened in 2018, just in time for the launch of his first cookbook, Closing the Gap; Truth and Reconciliation Through Indigenous Foods.
Santos Canel is a Kaqchiquel Maya native of Guatemala. He has 20 years’ experience in the restaurant industry and as a culinary instructor and investigator in the Maya communities around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. He designed and implemented the first culinary certificate program on Lake Atitlan, and has had the privilege of researching and compiling La Ruta del Sabor, the first book of recipes from the Maya villages of Atitlan. In addition, through the training workshops he has led in the Maya communities, he has had the privilege of getting to know first-hand the rich culinary abundance of Indigenous Guatemala. He is a strong proponent of reintroducing indigenous foods into the modern Mayan diet for the tremendous nutritional benefits that many of the Native Mayanative foods provide. He has had several of his own restaurants, the most recent of which is Café La Puerta, where he is able to explore Guatemala’s culinary traditions and fuse them with other international cuisines.
Atilano Hernández de la Rosa
Chef Hernández de la Rosa was born on June 12, 1980, in the Yokot’an-Maya town of Nacajuca, Tabasco Mexico. The objectives of Chef Atilano Hernández de la Rosa and the Yokok’ux Ancestral Flavor restaurant are rescuing Indigenous gastronomy, preserving the Yokot’an-Maya Indigenous language, and bringing Yokot’an-Maya culture and traditions to the world. Culinaria Mexicana, the gastronomic portal of Mexico, has selected the Yokok’ux Ancestral Flavor restaurant as one of the five restaurants that highlight Indigenous cuisine in Mexico.
Hamuera Orupe McLeod
Maori, New Zealand
Chef McLeod’s professional background began in the hospitality industry, qualifying as a professional Chef in 1978. In 2000, Chef McLeod created a company to research the national indigenous Māori food culture and promote it as an iconic treasure and craft unique to New Zealand. His work is focused around the protection, teaching and remodeling of the national tribal culinary practices of the Ngai Tuhoe, where primary culinary resources are still available to our people, and sharing this knowledge with tribal members, other Maori, New Zealanders, and the world.
Kyliemera Nema Kapiri
Lae, Morose Province, Papua New Guinea
Chef Kapiri is from Lae, Morose Province, Papua New Guinea. She received a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Environmental Science and Geography from the University of Papua New Guinea in 2018.
Chef Lebo Phala established her own Indigenous culinary company, HL Culinary Experience, after she received her Diploma In Food Preparation and Cooking at Capsicum Culinary Studio. She is not only about culinary experiences, but also a professional photographer, videographer, and a visionary, who is passionate about women empowerment and promoting African heritage and culture. Chef Lebo has co-authored a book on traditional South African food, which is considered one of the best-sellers in its category. Chef Lebo has appeared on many national radio shows in South Africa. Her love for traditional food has influenced many event organizers to partner with her and, in the process, has enabled her to follow her passion of promoting healthy eating and the celebration of African heritage. Chef Lebo is inspiring many other women and is on a mission to elevate African traditional food to a different level.
Alaska, United States of America
Originally from Homer, Nikki Graham “Aga’Askaa” is a lifelong Alaska of Yup’ik, Blackfoot Indian and Dutch descent. She is a Cook Inlet Region Incorporated (CIRI) shareholder and an enrolled member of the Ninilchik Village Tribe. Nikki earned an associate degree in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles, California and is completing her Master of Business Administration from Alaska Pacific University (APU). Nikki is a champion of transformational change and an advocate for Alaska Native and Indigenous peoples. She enjoys fostering the creation and implementation of innovative approaches to values-based operations management and development needed to advance organizational mission.
Chef Mhlelusizo Ncube has twelve years of culinary experience with such renowned hotels and and lodges as the Victoria Falls Safari Lodges, Asara Wine Estate & Hotel, Singita Pamushana, all in Zimbabwe, and with Singita Lodges in South Africa, among others. She has a strong passion for Indigenous African foods with the use of moringa (Moringa oleifera) currently in her dishes. She is a strong advocate for rural tourism.
Sijabuliso Dube, an Indigenous Culinary Arts Student, was born was born May 24, 1992. She is a mother of two and a teacher by profession. She has a long-standing interest in food, especially Indigenous foods. She began cooking at a very young age at home and fell in love with it. In 2022 she enrolled with Chef Mhlelusizo Ncube at Stir up Chefs in Zimbabwe. Ms Dube is currently studying cooking and baking to sharpen her culinary skills and gain more knowledge from Chef Mhlelusizo Ncube about food as a whole.
Meet Our Organizers
Gordon Bronitsky is an anthropologist (PhD University of Arizona 1977). Since 1994, he has been the founder/president of Bronitsky and Associates dba IndigeNOW!, its non-profit production arm. IndigeNOW’s mission is simple – to work with Indigenous artists and performers, traditional and contemporary, to bring their voices and messages to the world.
Gordon Bronitsky has been creating unique cultural experiences for over 30 years – from intimate artisan gatherings to multi-day festivals with international participation. He has long-standing relationships with leading contemporary Indigenous chefs, performing artists and Indigenous organizations around the world. He has worked on every continent except Antarctica.
Makhosi Godonga KaMahlangu, Zimbabwe
Makhosi Mahlangu is a food scientist, village farmer, food writer, food lecturer, cook, food reader and also has a deep passion for traditional African foods. He is a Lecturer in Food Science at Lupane State University in Zimbabwe. He has a strong background in food processing, novel food designs, modern culinary trends and sustainable food trends. He has numerous academic achievements including an MSc in Food and Beverage Innovation and Management from Ancona (Marche Region) in Italy. He is currently working on promoting and conserving traditional foods from the villages and is the editor and primary author of Our Food, Our Heritage, Our Future. Makhosi strongly believes African foods are nutritious, healthy and also maintain viable ecosystems. Makhosi also founded the African Food Revolution, an organization that seeks to develop traditional food systems and amplify food production in African villages. He discusses his work and goals in a recent interview.
Vianey Rodríguez Torres
Vianey Rodríguez Torres is a member of the Yokot’an (Chontal Maya) Nation, from Tecoluta, Nacajuca, Tabasco, Mexico. She studied Graphic Design and has a Master and Doctorate in Administration and Senior Management. She is the founder of three companies, Yokok’ux Sabor Ancestral, Eikongráfico SA. of CV. and the Yokot’an Cultural Center.
She is a woman who loves her culture, traditions, and customs. For this reason, she has taken on the challenging task of being a cultural promoter. She is also altruistic and is currently supporting vulnerable people. Her goal is to promote the culture and the original languages of the State of Tabasco. She is a Yokot’an woman who loves and fights for the origins of Tabasco and Mexico.
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Our mission is simple – to work with Indigenous artisans and performers to promote their incredible contributions to our world. We welcome you to join us as we enrich cultural understanding and diversity through workshops, events and festivals. (You can also use this form to update your existing information or be removed from our list.)