Indigenous traditions incorporated into new professional cooking class

Okanagan College in Kelowna, B.C., is launching a pilot program that uses insights from Indigenous knowledge keepers, chefs and foragers to incorporate traditional practices into professional cooking.

Okanagan College pilot program launches March 25

A new course at Okanagan College that includes Indigenous cooking practices is open to students of all backgrounds and experience levels. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

A new professional cooking class, with a little bit of local flair, is coming to B.C.'s Interior. 

Okanagan College in Kelowna, B.C., is launching a pilot program that uses insights from Indigenous knowledge keepers, chefs and foragers to incorporate traditional practices into professional cooking.

"Programs like these are needed as they help bring Indigenous foods to the forefront," said program advisor and Red Seal chef Andrew George. "That, in turn, fosters understanding and respect."

Along with learning to cook traditional dishes, the course teaches students about foraging and harvesting; there are fishing, mushroom-picking, and herb-gathering field trips planned throughout the year-long course.

A new pilot program at Okanagan College in Kelowna, B.C., will incorporate traditional Indigenous food practices into its teachings this spring. (Okanagan College)

The course gives students the opportunity to work towards their Red Seal chef certification while learning about Indigenous culture, which George hopes will create more Indigenous chefs in the Okanagan.

"I think these students will take it and run with it," he said. 

George sees this course as an opportunity to address reconciliation in a different way — by bringing students of all demographics together to learn from each other. 

"At the end of the day, it creates a very strong relationship," he said. 

Other schools and First Nations have expressed interest in the program to George. He said this course will serve as a template for educational institutions throughout the province that want to bring Indigenous food knowledge into their schools.

The program starts on March 25, and runs for one year. It's open to all students of all skill levels. George said whether students are Indigenous or not, no matter how much experience they have with cooking in general, there is something for all to learn.​

"It's a process that we call breaking bread," he told Daybreak South guest host Brady Strachan. "To sit down and learn about each other's cultures and work together and share some experiences and some recipes."

With files from Daybreak South