Kindred Kitchens | Siobhan Detkavich | Youngest & First Indigenous Woman Competitor on Top Chef Canada
WHAT DO YOU DO IN THE WORLD OF FOOD? WHAT IMPACT DO YOU, OR DO YOU HOPE, TO MAKE?
In the world of food, I’m just a Chef de Partie; and like most people, I’m still learning my trade. I’m learning which flavours and what characteristics define me as a cook, and discovering each day different concepts and techniques I hope to embody, so that one day I can use them to bring forth my own brand.
As of right now, I’m on a journey to rediscover my Indigenous roots. I’m working on studying and understanding our nation’s culture, and show Canada the beauty of our heritage through stories told by food. With the incredible opportunity to par take in season 9 of Top Chef Canada, it gave me a platform to bring awareness to cooking for reconciliation and sovereignty, and I hope for nothing but to inspire the Indigenous youth to strive to achieve whatever they put their mind to if they work hard for their goals.
WHAT DOES KEEP FOOD ALIVE MEAN TO YOU?
To me, that statement sources from sustainability. I think a key factor that’ll come from the food of the future is going to be about what we can do to lower our carbon footprint, and how we can utilize each product to its fullest extent. It’s about knowing where your food is grown, and trying to steer yourself in a direction to support local fully, and buy organic ingredients.
WHAT IS YOUR CAN'T-LIVE-WITHOUT KITCHEN TOOL?
I think anyone can agree with me when I say that a knife is pretty essential from a cook’s standpoint, haha. But when I’m in service or not really doing anything prep related, I don’t think I could really function without my spoons. Spoons are like a sacred object to each cook, taking years to build and finesse their collection; and honestly, most Chefs that I’ve seen who’ve lost their spoons, get just as mad and flabbergasted as if it were their knife that had gone missing instead.
Moral of the story? Please don’t touch our spoons.
WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE THE COMMUNITY TO KNOW ABOUT INDIGENOUS FOOD & CULTURE?
I think what the media has missed for so many years has been casting a light on the beauty of our nation and the people behind it. There has been so much misrepresentation from the media put out there, and with all that has started to come to light these days, what I think is important is remembering that we are a strong, resilient nation with beautiful stories and traditions to share.
When it comes to Indigenous cuisine though, I’m sure even Indigenous people don’t really understand what Indigenous food really is. We celebrate so many other cultures, but what is out there that really defines ours?
Looking up to other Indigenous Chefs, I’ve come to learn and embody the fact that Indigenous food is about the land. It’s about place. It’s about terroir. It’s about the ingredients from where you’re from, and giving thanks to the creator, and your food for its sacrifice. It’s a common association for people to often steer towards the idea of bannock when they think ‘Indigenous Cuisine’, but truthfully, bannock is a small part of a bigger picture. Granted I love making bannock (also very similar to fry bread in other communities), but bannock is not a traditional Indigenous food. It dates back to colonialism when different things such as flour, and spices were brought over. I believe that in foraging your ingredients, it brings together a connection to your produce and to the land.
I believe that for Canada, as a nation, it’s so incredibly important that we fight for reconciliation, and it’s especially important that we learn how to cook with sovereignty.
AT YOUR ULTIMATE DINNER PARTY, WHO WOULD YOU INVITE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE?
That’s such a tough question! There are so many incredible people out there who are still around and who have come to pass. Top of my list though easily: Guy Fieri. The man is an absolute gem to society.
In a non-covid world where I could have large gatherings, I’d imagine having a few of my music and culinary inspirations come by. I could see it being in a setting almost like a potluck, but tapas style. It’d be a such a fun experience to see each dish unique to every individual.
…The cast of Star Wars can come too, they’re pretty alright.
WHAT IS ONE INGREDIENT IN YOUR KITCHEN THAT IS ALWAYS STOCKED?
Honestly, I am a 22 year old trying to survive in this economy, so I don’t do too much cooking at home unless I am meal prepping (everything is so expensive these days). But on God’s word, I can always guarantee I’ll have rice cakes and peanut butter on hand. It’s a great source of protein for a quick snack, and satisfies the hunger when there’s no food around. Spread some honey on top if you fancy, and you have yourself a delectable treat.
FOLLOW SIOBHAN'S CULINARY JOURNEY ON INSTAGRAM
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It is with deep respect and gratitude that we create, build and operate our business in the communities of Southern Vancouver Island, which as a business we acknowledge is located within the ancestral and unceded territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) (Esquimalt and Songhees), Malahat, Pacheedaht, Scia'new, T’Sou-ke and W̱SÁNEĆ (Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum) peoples.
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