In this episode, George Blitch interviews Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota, who was born in Pine Ridge, SD, and has since been cooking across the World for the last 30 years. Sean has been the recipient of three James Beard Awards, one for Leadership, one for his book, "The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen", and most recently for the Best New Restaurant, "Owamni", in 2022.
His main culinary focus has been on the revitalization and awareness of Indigenous foods systems in a modern culinary context.
Sean has studied on his own extensively to determine the foundations of these food systems which include the knowledge of Native American farming techniques, wild food usage and harvesting, land stewardship, salt and sugar making, hunting and fishing, food preservation, Native American migrational histories, elemental cooking techniques, and Native culture and history in general - to gain a full understanding of bringing back a sense of Native American cuisine to today’s world.
In 2014, he opened the business titled The Sioux Chef as a caterer and food educator to the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area.
In 2015 in partnership with the Little Earth Community of United Tribes in Minneapolis, he also helped to design and open the Tatanka Truck food truck, which featured pre-contact foods of the Dakota and Minnesota territories.
Chef Sean and his vision of modern indigenous foods have been featured in numerous articles and radio shows, along with dinners at the James Beard House in Manhattan and Milan, along with teaching and sharing his knowledge to gatherings and crowds at Yale, the Culinary Institute of America, the United Nations, and many more.
Sean has been the recipient of a 2015 First Peoples Fund Fellowship, 2018 Bush Foundation Fellowship, National Center’s 2018 First American Entrepreneurship Award, and he is a three-time James Beard Award winner with the 2018 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook - The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, a 2019 James Beard Leadership Award, and most recently, the 2022 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, for his restaurant, Owmani, based in Minneapolis.
The Sioux Chef team works to make indigenous foods more accessible to as many communities as possible.
To open opportunities for more people to learn about Native cuisine and develop food enterprises in their tribal communities, he founded the nonprofit North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS).
NĀTIFS has opened the Indigenous Food Lab in the Midtown Global Market on historic Lake Street in Minneapolis. The Indigenous Food Lab is a professional Indigenous kitchen and training center covering all aspects of food service; research and development; Indigenous food identification, gathering, cultivation, and preparation; and all components of starting and running a successful culinary business based around Native traditions and Indigenous foods.
Owamni is a modern Indigenous full-service restaurant also located in Minneapolis, which sources supplies from Indigenous food producers. They remove colonial ingredients such as wheat flour, cane sugar and dairy, presenting a truly decolonized dining experience.
George and Sean discuss his journey from his early years on the Pine Ridge Reservation, working his way up through various restaurants, his decision to learn about and lead the Indigenous Food Movement, to eventually becoming one of the most respected chefs, around.
Thanks for tuning in – I hope you enjoy!
To learn more about Sean Sherman, visit these websites:
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