Vancouver Olympics: Meet Canada’s First Nations 2

In yesterday’s post, I started to introduce you to some of Canada’s accomplished First Nation chefs, and to the knowledge that you can try Canadian aboriginal food at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Canada’s First Nations Food at Winter Olympics

In that article, I spoke about the only aboriginal tribe ever to compete at the World Culinary Olympics — it was a multi-tribe team from Canada’s First Nations, and they won the World’s First Place Over All at the Games — along with 12 medals including 8 golds.

The team members were among 13,000 contestants, from over fifty countries. It’s fantastic that they took first place.

Chef George and his team are credited with establishing an Aboriginal presence in international cuisine.

Here’s the 1992 World Culinary Olympic Champion Team:
___ Chef Andrew George Jr. (Carrier Nation and Athapaskan Nation) was the lead member of that Canadian Native gold medal winning team and was head chef at the Expo ’86 Native Cuisine pavilion.

___ Chef Arnold Olson (Cree Nation from Saskatchewan), who now heads the First Nation team cooking at the 2010 Winter Olympics’ Aboriginal Pavilion – Aboriginal House restaurant. He has cooked for Queen Elizabeth while in his post in Ottawa.

___ Chef Brian Sappier (Micmac Nation from New Brunswick)

___ Chef Bertha Skye (Cree from the Six Nations, Grand River, Ont.)

___ Chef David Wolfman (Stolo Nation from British Columbia, now famous as the chef on TV’s ‘Cooking with the Wolfman’).

Chef Andrew George is a member of the Wet’suwet’en band, part of the Carrier Nation, a Dene (Athapaskan) tribe, from Toody Ni (‘Where the Hill Faces the River’) or Owen Lake in the Bulkey Valley, in Now’h Yin’h Ta’h (‘Keepers of the Land’ which is around the Skeena and Fraser watersheds, in the central interior of B.C.).

He is the son of Andrew George Sr. and grandson of Gisdewe, a clan chief. Chef George cooked at the Vancouver Indian Friendship Centre, then at the Qualicum House featuring Native cuisine, the trendy Avenue Grill, upscale Isadora’s, and the world famous Chateau Whistler Resort. In 1986, as I said above, he was head chef for the First Nation’s restaurant at Expo ’86, and I enjoyed his recipes so much!

Here are some more of his recipes, so you can enjoy them at home with simpler native ingredients, and then think about getting his cookbook while you are in Canada (or at amazon.ca).

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First Nation Toody Ni Juniper Duck
Serves two.

This is a great favorite when he prepares it. The recipe is quite simple, and the end product is spectacular: imagine smoked duck breast, and red wine, and juniper berries. Yum.

2 boneless smoked duck breasts
salt and pepper to taste
2 t vegetable oil (10 ml)
1 lg shallot, chopped
1T juniper berries, crushed (15ml)
1/3C red wine (75 ml)
1/2C duck stock or demi-glace (125 ml)

Season the duck with salt and pepper and place it skin side down upon a rack in a broiling pan.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil and then sauté shallots and juniper berries until the shallots are transparent.

Add wine and stock, then boil until reduced by half. Reserve 1/3 of the sauce. Pour some of the remaining sauce over the duck and broil it (6 inches) (15 cm) from the heat for 5 minutes.

Baste the breasts with the same working portion of the sauce and roast at 375°F (190°C) for 10 minutes (or until breast is firm to the touch and juices run clear).

Arrange the breasts on plates and spoon the reserved, untouched sauce over them.

Serve with Fiddleheads Wabanaki and Baked Sweet Potato with Roasted Hazelnuts

(Those recipes are available in “Feast: Canadian Native Cuisine for All Seasons”, by Chef Andrew George Jr.and Robert Gairns, 1997. Doubleday ).

Nicky Game – Portland, Oregon USA may carry smoked duck breasts.

Trader Joe’s has carried Muscovy duck breasts in the past (you could lightly smoke it with dry tea leaves in an enclosed pan — look for instructions on the Net).
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Chef Andrew George’s First Nation Salt Salmon
Yield: 6 Servings

1 side filleted coho or sockeye salmon; skin on, no head or tail
2C rock salt

Spread half the rock salt in a large nonreactive baking dish (glass is best). Lay the salmon on top of the salt and cover with remaining salt. Refrigerate it covered, overnight. This process will gently firm the fish’s consistency.

When ready to cook your meal, bring water to a boil in a large pot. (Mystic: I suggest adding onion, garlic, and whole peppercorns to the water bath.)

Pat salmon dry, and then remove the skin.

Cut salmon into (6) 8-oz pieces.

Poach the salmon pieces at a simmer for approximately 10-14 minutes (until the fish flakes easily).

Serve the salmon with wild rice topped with chopped dry seaweed and sauteed wild celery (you can use regular celery).

“Feast!” Andrew George Jr. and Robert Gairns, 1997. Doubleday,
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Sharing cultures and learning more about other people is what is the most lasting benefit of world gatherings, like the Olympic Games.

Enjoy!

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