‘Cooking in Two Worlds’: Chef Brian Yazzie to present on Indigenous food sovereignty

For the Tomahawk Leader

RHINELANDER – Later this month, Nicolet College Arts and Enrichment will host Chef Brian Yazzie for his presentation “Cooking in Two Worlds.”

Yazzie’s presentation is slated to be held at Nicolet College, 5364 College Dr., Rhinelander, on Tuesday, March 26.

Chef Brian Yazzie will take the stage at the Nicolet College Theatre later this month. He will share his perspective as an Indigenous chef on the front lines of the modern food sovereignty movement during his presentation, “Cooking in Two Worlds.” Photo courtesy of Nicolet College.

A release from Nicolet said the presentation will “feature the intersection between food and culture, highlighting the contemporary cuisine of Indigenous flavors with a sampling of food and conversation on decolonization through food sovereignty.”

Funding for the event was made possible by the Nicolet College Foundation.

Nicolet College Culinary Arts Instructor Vicki Mendham received the Dr. Robert Steger Innovation Award to bring an Indigenous chef to campus.

“We wanted a chef that would come into the classroom and share his knowledge with our students, and then do something for the broader community in the theatre at night,” Mendham said. “It’s going to be very interesting, and I think all of us are going to learn a lot.”

Mendham added that the college’s connections and proximity to local tribes inspired the desire to bring an Indigenous chef to campus to expose students to Native cultures and cuisines.

“Her hope is to bring in a diverse audience of current and prospective students, tribal members and the community at-large to take part in a community-based conversation,” Nicolet stated.

Yazzie will join current students at the Nicolet Culinary Lab the morning of the event to teach about preparing Indigenous food with locally sourced ingredients. Yazzie will work with the students to prepare a dish for the audience to sample prior to the start of the evening community event. As a Navajo chef, the menu will highlight ingredients like blue corn, wild rice, and venison.

Nicolet said Yazzie’s evening presentation “Cooking in Two Worlds” will focus on Indigenous food sovereignty, which goes beyond food security to include the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food.

“Many of the health issues and inequalities Indigenous communities face today are rooted in colonization, loss of language and culture and dispossession of homelands,” Nicolet stated. “The modern food sovereignty movement aims to empower tribal communities to address these issues by cultivating sustainable food systems that encompass cultural rituals and Indigenous knowledge.”

Nicolet said the event will be a conversation with the chef to highlight his personal experiences starting as a culinary arts student less than a decade ago at Saint Paul College in Minnesota and his journey that led to his current role as owner and founder of Intertribal Foodways, an international catering company that specializes in wellness and health through food. Yazzie will share his personal perspectives on Indigenous food sovereignty and his role in the modern movement.

“The Indigenous food movement is a community, and we have to protect our narratives in these spaces,” Yazzie stated. “We have to speak our own narratives and bring truth to power. As a chef, you can never stop learning.”

Tickets for the event are $5.00 per person and can be purchased online in advance. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.nicoletlive.com or call 715-365-4646.

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