Web series have proved to be the best way to attract audiences to not just the social issues but, ongoing dramatic behind the scene realities of the society as well. So, why should the dramatic indigenous cooking stay behind in the league?
A new online documentary web series featuring Wood Buffalo profiles right from the region’s original farm-to-table and locally-sourced cuisine that are rarely found outside of the Boreal Forest.
Red Chef Revival is a six-part travelling web series sponsored by Telus’ STORYHIVE initiative, which undertakes three Indigenous chefs to the Indigenous communities across Canada to experience their cuisine.
The episode will be featuring Fort McMurray and its surrounding rural areas that are hosted by chef Cezin Nottaway, an Algonquin woman who runs a food business out of the Kitigan Zibi Algonquin First Nation (Maniwaki) in Quebec.
During the 22-minute episode, Nottaway tries cannabis-infused butter made by Cheeko Desjarlais of the Fort McMurray #468 First Nation. Brian Bird, a local moose hide tanner, will be serving trout cooked over an open-fire with birch syrup.
The episode finishes with a feast of beaver tail cooked in maple syrup and rabbit after training with the Janvier Volunteer Fire Department.
“The simplicity of the bush food is no spices, no fancy herbs,” says the chef. She further added, “You’ve got yourself and your pepper, cooking it on open fire like meat and potatoes. Not even any vegetables. You’re lucky to get a carrot.”
During an instant of the episode, she reflected on how quickly nature has bounced back after the May 2016 wildfires and still continues to provide harvest for the people she meets.
She further added in this account, “It’s important that other people need to learn about who we are as a people,” she said in an interview. “It’s also important that people know every aspect of our culture and food is such an important part of our lives, that people know about our way of life. Food is a great way to talk about people and community and tradition,” said Berish, who produced the series with fellow filmmaker Ryan Mah. “Indigenous people, just like every other culture, have very deep connections to food.”
A main goal for Red Chef Revival remains to show food as a cultural access point as mentioned by B.C.-based filmmaker and the director Dan Berish.
Focusing on how hard it is to forget the taste and people who have influenced your ways, Berish said, “Cougar, for instance, reminded me of wild boar. The beaver tail was sweet, fatty and pretty incredible. Those are all things I had never heard of before, but it was incredible to see our chefs take those traditional recipes and sometimes put a new spin on them. Everywhere we went, we were literally foraging within 10 metres of where we were cooking.”
The other two hosts of the web series , Red Chef Revival are Rich Francis, a Top Chef finalist and member of the Tetlit Grich’in and Tuscarora Nations; and Shane Chartrand, a Métis/Cree chef who was a finalist on Chopped and the first Indigenous chef to take top honours at a Gold Medal Plates competition.
Episodes of Red Chef Revival are aired on the YouTube page for STORYHIVE.