ER How do you hope this show will change people's understanding of Indigenous cuisine?
RF I hope Red Chef Revival changes the hearts and minds of people who are willing to listen and learn from Indigenous voices, so they become part of removing the stigma attached to Indigenous food. In the first episode I visit the Osoyoos Indian Reserve in B.C. We wanted to rediscover “survival food,” that Indigenous people ate during times of starvation. That meant cooking cougar, prickly pear cactus and bitterroot. The food has to tell a story and honour our traditions. People talk about terroir, but this is the ultimate terroir – we cooked with food from 100 metres from where we stood.
ER What inspired you to be part of this project?
RF I wanted to use my own voice, experience, knowledge and intuition to forecast where we can take Indigenous food. But in order to reinvent it, you first have to rediscover it. One of my signature dishes is salmon cured with the four plants of the Indigenous medicine wheel: cedar, sweet grass, sage and tobacco. I want to give people a palate reference for those four flavours.
ER What is the future of Indigenous food in Canada?
RF I see it as getting our backstory from our Indigenous elders about foods they ate before colonialism and before the residential schools. Food has an amazing ability to heal. I want to carve out a new identity for ourselves, no longer calling it “Canadian” food, but reclaiming what was always ours, on Turtle Island. Right now, it’s very much a resistance cuisine, but I see it as ultimately healing for the rest of Canada.