One chef’s visit to the University of Wisconsin-Stout brought forth his focus in the culinary world to revitalize and evolve indigenous food systems that are native to North America.
Students and community members gathered together on Thursday, April 5, in Heritage Hall for the Native American Student Organization (NASO) and Slow Food’s “Decolonize Your Diet” event. The event consisted of a book signing, a presentation and a cooking demonstration by indigenous Chef Sean Sherman.
Sean Sherman, author of “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen,” is a renowned chef both nationally and internationally for his role in the indigenous foods culinary movement.
The evening kicked off with a book signing of Chef Sean’s cookbook. Guests could chat with the chef and sample cedar tea. Guests then moved to the lecture hall where Chef Sean delivered a presentation on how many indigenous food practices had been lost due to colonization and why it is important for everyone to be knowledgeable about where their food comes from and how it is prepared.
“Food is a part of cultural identity,” said Chef Sean, “We need to celebrate indigenous efforts to educate people on traditional food and practices for harvesting. You don’t have to be indigenous to have a deeper understanding of the land.”
Chef Sean moved on to demonstrate how to prepare the wild rice pilaf found within his cookbook. Guests had the opportunity to taste the dish, which was prepared with ingredients indigenous to North America.
Chetan McKay, the president of NASO, said that his org wanted to host the chef because of Sherman’s contemporary take on educating people about indigenous culinary history.
“We wanted an event that could educate people on foods that people think are indigenous, but were really recipes created in euro-American tradition during colonization. [For example,] many people are unaware that fry bread is not food traditional to North America,“ said McKay.
Matthew Giguere, the advisor for Slow Food, discussed why he wanted to partner with NASO to host Chef Sean.
“I try to look at the three ‘I’s’ of the Midwest, indigenous, immigrant and industrialized food, to get the full history of it,” said Giguere. “The first ‘I’ is often overlooked, which is why we were excited to have Sean.”