Food Tales: The Past, Present, and Future of Native American Cuisine

May 7-9, 2020

We invite you to join us on this very special journey to discover and celebrate Native American cultures, traditions, and stories behind the foods.

Open Kitchen is honored to collaborate with two inspiring Native chefs – Chef Ray Naranjo and Chef Brian Yazzie – to produce “Food Tales: The Past, Present, and Future of Native American Cuisine” May 7-9, 2020. This 3-day event is designed to celebrate the rich and diverse Native American culinary heritage and its aspirations for the future. A Chefs’ Reception and Curated Dinner, co-hosted by SITE Santa Fe, kicks off on Thursday, May 7, 2020, followed by hands-on cooking workshops and dining experiences on Friday, May 8, 2020 and Saturday, May 9, 2020.

Celebrating the Core Essence and Diversity of Native American Culinary Heritage

The food we consume goes beyond nourishing our bodies. How it’s prepared nourishes our traditions and tells tales of who we are, grounds us with a sense of place, and helps us find our way in the world. “Native American Cuisine” includes all cuisines and food practices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. While there is tremendous diversity in the spectrum of indigenous foods based on geography, languages, and cultural traditions across regions and tribes, the core essence of the Native American food culture is rooted in using seasonal and indigenous ingredients; applying ancestral knowledge to guide practices in gathering, harvesting, and growing foods that are sustainable and promote living in balance with the lands; approaching food as medicine; and respecting all forms of life by practicing “no-waste, head-to-tail” cooking techniques.

Native American Cuisine is largely invisible in today’s American culinary scene. Colonialism and forced assimilation and displacement have destroyed many indigenous food systems and practices causing negative social, cultural, and health consequences for indigenous communities. The future of Native American Cuisine is on a healing path thanks to a growing network of Native chefs, such as Chefs Naranjo and Yazzie, who are rediscovering and restoring ancestral knowledge and practices, and reconnecting indigenous communities to their culinary heritage with the vision to bridge cultural identities and cultivate good health for the next generation.

Meet Chef Ray Naranjo and Chef Brian Yazzie
Our Native Chefs and Storytellers

Chef Ray Naranjo and Chef Brian Yazzie are passionately bringing visibility to the “forgotten” culinary culture of their heritage. They are applying their talents, creativity, and leadership to integrate modern techniques and ancestral knowledge to indigenous ingredients that creates a path for the next generation to restore cultural knowledge, advance sustainability, and encourage healthier eating.

Chef Ray Naranjo is from both the Ancient Puebloans of the Southwest and of the Three Fire Tribes of the Great Lakes. He believes in the preservation of the food ways and ancestral knowledge of his people and strives to continue on this path. With the use of modern and ancestral cooking techniques, he pushes the limits of what is known, unknown, and forgotten about the Indigenous food culture of North America. Chef Naranjo obtained his Culinary degree at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute – Le Cordon Bleu and has 25+ years of service in the modern kitchen industry with experience in exclusive hotel and casino resorts in the Southwest. Chef Naranjo is the Executive Chef of Pueblo Harvest, a full-service restaurant at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM, known for extraordinary regional and Native-sourced, Pueblo-inspired cuisine that blends honoring legacy and history with exhibiting artistry and modernity.

Brian Yazzie aka “Yazzie the Chef” (Diné/Navajo) is from Dennehotso, Arizona and based out of Saint Paul, MN. Yazzie has a degree of Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Culinary Arts from Saint Paul College. Chef Yazzie is a summer resident chef at Dream of Wild Health Farm, a team member at Indigenous Food Lab based out of Minneapolis, MN, a delegate of Slow Food Turtle Island Association, and a team member at I-Collective: a collective of cooks, chefs, seed keepers, farmers, foragers, and scholars, focused on bringing awareness to the cultural appropriations of indigenous foods of the Americas.

Chef Yazzie and his fiancée, Danielle Polk (Hoonmana Polk) are the Founders/Owners of Intertribal Foodways. A culinary mission specifically working with and for the betterment of tribal communities, and wellness and health through indigenous foods. They travel internationally and are available for catering, private dinners, pop up dinners, chef demos & cooking classes, collaborations, and presentations on indigenous food sovereignty.
You can learn more about Chef Yazzie in the following outlets:

Social Media: Yazzie the Chef TV (YouTube channel page – Facebook), -Yazzie The Chef (Professional Chef page – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), Intertribal Foodways (Catering page – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook)
YouTube Channel: (“Travels, Indigenous Food Recipes, Demos, Lifestyle”)

Day 1: Thursday, May 7, 2020: A Chefs’ Reception and Curated Dinner with Ray Naranjo & Brian Yazzie
Co-Hosted by SITE Santa Fe on May 7, 2020

Day 2: Friday, May 8, 2020: Hands-on Cooking Workshops and Lunch/Dinner – MORE TO COME

Day 3: Saturday, May 9, 2020: Hands-on Cooking Workshop and Lunch and Closing Reception – MORE TO COME