British Columbia

Turning the Page: chef launches Vancouver's 1st Indigenous food truck

Squamish Nation chef Paul Natrall is bringing traditional Indigenous cuisine with a twist to the streets of Vancouver with the launch of his new food truck, Mr. Bannock.

'I've been playing around with some of these recipes ... I can't wait to start'

Chef Paul Natrall poses with his food truck on the Squamish Nation. Foodies will soon be able to purchase traditional Indigenous cuisine when Natrall launches his business, Mr. Bannock, in early 2018. (Matthew Lazin-Ryder/CBC)

It's the beginning of a new year: a time of renewal, of reinvention or new beginnings. Turning the Page is a week-long series of stories about starting over and moving forward, airing on CBC's On the Coast Jan. 2 - Jan. 5.

Paul Natrall is breaking bannock in 2018.

The Squamish Nation chef is bringing Indigenous cuisine to the streets of Vancouver with the launch of his new food truck, Mr. Bannock. 

The project has been in the works for a year, but, in some ways, Natrall has been preparing for this moment his whole life.

Natrall grew up on Squamish Nation territory and spent much of his childhood watching his grandmothers cook. He honed his own skills after hours of observing these elder women prep and serve traditional meals to his extended family.

"I would say the best [meal] was a hamburger soup with baked bannock," said Natrall, who remembers happy Christmas Eves as a kid when people would gather at midnight in the family home to open presents and enjoy a bowl.

"Everybody from the kitchen to the front room had hamburger soup," said Natrall, "No one could come close to making it, not even to this day."

Paul Natrall credits his cooking skills to watching and learning from his grandmothers during his childhood on Squamish Nation territory. (Matthew Lazin-Ryder/CBC)

Whether or not Mr. Bannock will serve hamburger soup remains to be seen, but Natrall is planning to dish up traditional Indigenous cuisine with a twist.

There will be an Indian taco to try out and a Canadian beef bannock burger to bite into. And for those who like to Instagram before they eat, a smoked meat sandwich served between honey-waffle bannock should do the trick.

"It's like chicken and waffles but an Indigenous version," said Natrall.

"I've been playing around with some of these recipes ... I can't wait to start executing and see how much people enjoy it."

Natrall also plans to play around with cooking methods.

"What I want to do with my food truck is bring back smoked meats and clay baking and stone baking and that is really traditional. In the ancient times, people just used natural sunlight and big rocks to cook," explained Natrall.

Mr. Bannock might be cooking with gas, but Natrall is finding ways to pay homage to the ancients.

"For the stone baking, I did a really nice baked bannock and it's a lot healthier than the fried stuff ... the look and texture and smell is different."

So, when can Vancouverites expect to break baked bannock on the streets?

"The paperwork is in process for the permits and then off to the races," said Natrall. 

To hear the complete interview click on the audio link below:

With files from On The Coast