On March 23 and 24, Queen's University hosted Chef Joseph Shawana, Chair of the Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations Board, for an event billed as “Traditions: Indigenous Storytelling through food” that included an Indigenous culinary training session followed by a dinner and lunch pop up.
Chef Shawana, who is also a Professor at Centennial College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts Centennial College in Toronto, kicked off the event with a culinary training session during which he shared teachings about the foundation of Indigenous food systems, the importance of ingredient history and proper cooking techniques for producing Indigenous recipes.
Following the training, Chef Shawana worked alongside the Queen's culinary team to create an Indigenous dinner and lunch pop-up event that took place in the Leonard and Ban Righ dining halls for students living on campus.
Students were treated to Chef Shawana's carefully crafted recipes, which included Bison Stew, Evergreen Salted duck and Wild Rice Pudding with Sweetgrass Creme Anglaise.
When asked why this type of event is important to him, Chef Shawana responded: “I’ve been doing similar events across the country for the past five years…especially with me teaching at the culinary school at Centennial College, I see the gap between individuals who are outside of school versus individuals who are already in the school system…they are, I would say, the forgotten class…they don’t know about nutritious meals, culturally appropriate meals, so by me coming in to do these types of events with Aramark, it’s been eye-opening for me because I get to tell the story of the history of our food.”
Shawana said in interacting with Queen’s students, his goal was to educate them about the history Canada and food. “A lot of people are disconnected about where food comes from. A lot of people think that they can go to the grocery store to buy their food. Yet they miss the farmer’s markets on the weekends or during the week and getting to know the farmers and where the food comes from,” he pointed out.
“People don’t know where tomatoes come from…they come from South America, same as potatoes and sweet potatoes, squash and beans. The Indigenous peoples of North and South America really contribute to the world food system as a whole.”
Chef Shawana adds that when he caters for small or larger groups, he incorporates the produce and herbs he picks from First Nations reserves in Canada’s North or around his cottage. “Last year, we picked a lot of wild leeks and making oils out of them; cooking oils and seasoning oils and different types of salts with them and I picked some and froze the rest.”